It’s that time of the year when fruit trees are giving us loads of delicious ripe gifts in the northern hemisphere.
Often there are too many fruits to eat or use before they start spoiling, so I started looking into how to preserve these and discovered the practice of canning fruits – and it’s a lot of fun!
Actually I’m pretty hooked on trying out new recipes with various fruits and berries every time I come back from the local farmers’ market that now is overflowing with the most amazing seasonal harvest. There are several different ways to can fruits, you can decide how sweet you like your syrup, and experiment with the spices you add. What you will end up with are many decorative glasses and jars that can last for up to a year. Soon I’ll also learn how to pickle veggies and make tomato-sauce, so stay tuned! But for now I’ll share my favorite recipe for preserved pears with you:
1. Depending on how many pears you want to preserve, you need the corresponding size or amount of jars. The jars have to be completely air-tight and clean.
2. You can test if the jars are air-tight by filling them with water and then turning them upside-down for a minute. If water comes out you shouldn’t use them for preservation, the fruits would go off too quickly.
3. To get your jars perfectly clean, place them in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Don’t forget to also sterilize the lids and rubber sealing rings!
Now, get those pears!
1. Peal, core and quarter the pears. Put them in a pot with cold water and some freshly pressed lemon juice to prevent discoloration from oxidation.
2. In a large pot, heat enough water to fill all your jars. Add 50-200g sugar per liter, depending on how sweet the pears are and how you sweet you’d like to have your syrup. Some sugar is necessary to prevent the pears from spoiling, so don’t skip it completely.
3. Add the quartered pears and bring the water to a boil. Depending on the size and consistency of the pears, boil them for 4-10 minutes.
4. Add some spices like cinnamon, vanilla, cloves etc. to the boiling water if you want. I love adding some peeled ginger shortly before I fill the jars with the pears.
5. Pack the pears tightly in the sterilized jars up to 2 cm under the rim. Make sure the water keeps boiling in the meantime.
6. Pour the boiling syrup (with the spices in) into the jars and up to the rim. Wipe the rims dry with a clean towel and put the lid on immediately.
7. Turn the jars upside down for a few minutes to test that your jars are properly sealed. If water comes out you should keep the jars in the fridge after they have cooled down and eat the fruits in the next days.
I really like this recipe because it’s very quick and easy. You don’t need any special equipment like a rack for your pot or any specific canning tools. I’ve purposely not given you exact quantities on the amount of pears, water or sugar to be used. I want you to trust your feeling and follow your own taste. The riper fruits, the less sugar you will need to add and the less you will have to boil them.
Some older recipes from our grandmother’s time claim that you can keep the preserved fruits in their jars up to one year, newer recipes (from our era of expiration date paranoia) say that the fruits last about 2-3 months. I reckon somewhere in between, i.e. about half a year, and advise you to use your senses: always smell and taste carefully before you eat the preserved fruits. Be careful as soon as the fruits change color or the syrup goes milky. Don’t eat them if you discover any mold, even if it’s “only” at the rim!
You can preserve almost any fruits and berries with this recipe. Just adjust the time for boiling the fruits, the amount of sugar and the spices you add.