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Before we get started be sure that you follow the latest guidance from the National Center for
Home Food Preservation on food safety. See the USDA Complete Guide To Home Canning
for more information.
Unlike many fruit trees, such as peach and apple, pear trees typically require very little
attention from the homeowner and provide many bumper crops over the years. A good pear
tree can easily produce far more than a single family can consume -- or will consume in a
Instead of letting the pears go to waste on the ground or using them to shoo away the
neighbor's stray pet, try home canning. If you invest a little time in "putting up" a few jars, you
will be rewarded with a tasty pear harvest that lasts well into the winter months.
I've tried a number of canning recipes for pears--all of which were excellent. However, when it
comes to pears, Lemon Ginger Pears are my favorite. The lemon imparts a bright sunny
flavor and the ginger a touch of spiciness. These pears are excellent straight from the jar or
as the main ingredient in a desert.
Gather the Harvest. Gather only the freshest pears and avoid those that have been on the
ground for several days or longer. And avoid those that are hanging off a broken limb. (Pear
trees tend to put on huge crops, often breaking a limb or two.) You only want those that you
have picked from the tree or those that have fallen off naturally.
Clean, Peel, and Slice the Pears. Wash the pears under cool tap water and inspect each one
to see if it should be culled out. I remember my grandmother cutting out bad spots out of
fruits many times. But current wisdom says that for home canning it's best to avoid fruit that is
already partially spoiled.
Find a comfortable spot where you can watch the TV, the chickens, or the wind blowing in the
trees. Peel, slice, and drop the pears into the pan of water. Many people recommend cutting
pears in half for canning. However, I like cutting them into bit-sized pieces. They are easier to
eat and work better with a variety of recipes.
Prepare the Jars, Lids, Canner. Because fruit usually has sufficient acid the boiling bath
method may be used. Following manufacturers instructions, add enough water to your
canner to cover all of your jars by at least an inch. Heat to near boil. Depending on your stove
and the size of your canner, this can take a while.
Be sure to wash your jars and place them in a pan of water to preheat. This is a hot pack
approach and preheating the jars will reduce the likelihood of breakage. Add lids to hot water
to heat and soften the seal.
Prepare the Syrup and Add the Pears. Depending on whether you like a light, medium, or
heavier syrup follow the latest guidelines for the appropriate ratio. I prefer a light syrup. This
provides a little more flexibility for using them with a wider variety of recipes. Heat the water to
dissolve the sugar. Carefully dip the pears out of your "peeling" pan and add them to the
syrup without splashing. A large slotted spoon is helpful.
Add Lemon Juice and Zest, and Freshly Grated Ginger. Fresh lemons are best. Here I
made 9 pints and used two large lemons (or three small). I used a grater with large holes to
cut long thin slices from the outside of the lemon rind for the zest. The long strips are just as
tasty, but are far more visually appealing than a finely grated zest. Then add the juice from
the two lemons, being careful to discard all of the seeds. Add half or a full cup of grated fresh
ginger, depending on your tastes. Bring the pears to a easy boil and remove from heat.
Pack and Seal the Jars. Remove the jars from the hot water using jar lifters, drain, and fill
them with pears using a slotted spoon. If you cut your pears into large pieces, you will need
to take your time and guide many of the pieces into place in the jars so they pack tightly. Pour
syrup over the pears and remove air bubbles by working a thin utensil between the pears and
the inside of the jar. Add more syrup if necessary to leave about 1/2" of head space. Be
careful! Everything you are handling here is scalding hot! Using a clean damp cloth
carefully wipe off jar rims and set lids into place. Screw rings down snuggly. Using jar lifter
place jars into canner. Add more hot water if needed to completely cover jars.
Process Jars. Place lid on canner and bring to a boil. Maintain boil for the appropriate time
for your altitude and jar size. In my case (pint jars and only 100' above sea level) I needed
15-20 minutes of boil time. Remove jars and let cool. Some rings may be loose, but do not
re-tighten as that may break the seal of the lids.
Like many fruits, when a freshly cut
pear is exposed to air it begins to
oxidize and can quickly turn various
shades of brown. To help your pears
keep their beautiful creamy white color
add Fruit Fresh or a few tablespoons
of lemon juice to a pan of water. As you
peel the pears slide them into the
water and they'll be fine until you are
ready to can them.
If your recipe does NOT call for lemon
juice or another acid (such as lime
juice or vinegar), use Fruit Fresh to
Home Canning: Lemon Ginger Pears
Canning Pears with Boiling Bath / Hot Pack Method