Helpful Tips For Canning Pears
Canning pears requires a little extra effort if the process is to be done well, and safely. It pays to plan ahead before starting, or at least have a good idea as to what the steps are you'll be following. Once the canning process is underway, it can be difficult as well as frustrating to have to backtrack and do things over.
Canning pears basically involves, preparing the fresh pears for canning, preparing the panning syrup, making certain that everything involved, especially jars, rings and lids, are clean, and then doing the actual cooking.
Prepare The Pears - If you have quite a number of pears to can, it can work to your advantage to have a large container with an ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or lemon juice solution on hand. Otherwise the peeled pears will begin to discolor. This doesn't affect their flavor, but a discolored pear just isn't as appetizing looking. Wash and peel the pears, cutting them lengthwise into halves, and remove the cores. You can quarter them if you wish, but most people can them in halves, sticking in smaller pieces as needed to fill the jar. For each quart of canned pears, figure on having 2 1/2 pounds of raw pears on hand.
Preparing The Syrup Solution - Prepare the syrup you’re going to can them in. Depending upon your taste, the ratio of water to sugar making up the syrup will vary. If you are calorie conscious, a very light syrup might be preferable. A very light syrup for canning 9 pints of pears would consist of 6 1/2 cups of water and 1/12 cups of sugar. This gives you a 10% sugar solution. For a heavier syrup, increase the sugar somewhat and decrease the amount of water. For a medium syrup solution a rule of thumb is to use 2 parts of water to each part of sugar. Sugar serves to preserve the shape of the pear slices, as well as enhance the flavor. If you have bits and pieces of pear left over from having peeled and sliced them, you can crush these pieces and add them, or their juice, to your syrup solution. If you really want to avoid an excess of sugar, can the pears in apple juice or grape juice, rather than the sugar and water syrup. The taste will be a little different, but still very good. Your canned pears will still taste like pears.
Jars and lids need to be sterilized by placing in boiling water. The dishwater will serve for the jars, but the lids are easiest to process if boiled for ten minutes in a small pot.
Packing And Canning - Bring the syrup solution to a boil and place the pear halves in the solution. This is preparing the pears for what is called hot packing, and provides for a higher quality end result. The pears are then packed into the jars, and the jars filled with syrup to about 1/2 inch from the top, but make sure the fruit is completely covered. This is to prevent the fruit from discoloring during storage. Wipe the rims of the jars dry and screw on the lids. The sealed jars then go into the canning bath and boiled for at least 20 minutes if you are using pint jars, and 35 minutes for quart jars. Remove, cool down, and you have your canned pears!
Stepping Outside The Box - A couple of interesting variations: (1) Add a couple of cinnamon sticks for each quart of syrup, boil the syrup, then remove the cinnamon sticks before packing the jars. (2) Use pineapple juice instead of sugar and water as your syrup solution. This latter idea sounds like a natural.