Or perhaps, more accurately, I jarred. Doesn’t quite have that same ring to it.
Yes, in order to prove to all of you how utterly boring my life is, I actually am admitting to my first-ever canning experiement with homemade pear preserves.
I am living the dream to have a garden that produces fruit here: a pear tree (that has a large root strangling its root ball), a sour cherry tree (that had an infestation of moth worms after I returned from Japan and continues its losing battle with shothole fungus), and a plum tree in front that produced nothing last year and this year dropped rotting plums all over the sidewalk for 3 months. There was the tree that I had a landscaper put in that they assured me was a plum, but which turned out to be a Japanese maple. I also put in a thornless red raspberry and a Bluet blueberry in my yard, both of which are on their last legs. And we have wild Everbearing strawberries on a hill in the back, which I didn’t know prior to springing for a strawberry pot which I planted with Ozarks. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a fruit salad from my garden at some point. But I digress.
The pear tree produced only about 40 pears last year, but this year, because I drove fertilizer stakes into the ground in Spring, it produced about 200 small pears (even after dropping a third of its fruit while we were abroad). I foisted as much as I could off on the unsuspecting neighbors and made a pear pie (my yearly tradition now…the pear pie, not the foisting LOL), but this still left me with about 130,920 pears to do something with. So I decided to make jam/preserves (I’m not really sure of the difference), using this recipe (I don’t remember what site I saw it on):
DIY Lower Sugar No Pectin Pear Preserves Recipe
*1.5 cups sugar
*3 c water
*8 med. pears, peeled & cored
*1.5 cups sugar
*sliced lemon (optional)
1.Combine first measure of sugar + water in a pot and cook rapidly for 2 min.
2.Add diced pears and boil slowly for 15 min.
3. Add remaining sugar and lemon (I used a couple squirts of lemon juice instead), stir until dissolved.
4. Cook rapidly til fruit is clear (about 25 min).
5. Cover & let stand 12 – 24 hours in a cool place.
It was the recipe with the smallest amount of sugar I could find. Even the Sure-Jell recipes required way more sugar. (I’m not sure if by reducing the sugar it would interfere with the jelling properties of the fruit…it may be that additional pectin would have to be added in order to create a jam-like consistency.)
It’s waaaaay too sweet.
But! The rest of the jam must be preserved and foisted off on unsuspecting relatives (rellies) for Christmas!
So I tried my hand at canning – using the boil-water method, which seemed to be the easiest. (and no, you don’t a canning kit! Just a very deep non-aluminum stockpot with a lid (a pot deep enough to hold enough water to cover your jars completely, with an added 1″ of water over their tops), a pair or canning tongs (not absolutely necessary but they were a big help), a colander/steam plate/smaller flat lid that will fit down inside your pot, and a couple of glass jars with canning lids.)
How to Preserve Jams/Jellies Using the Boil-Water Canning Method:
1. Sterilize your jars and the lid rings (NOT THE JAR LIDS): Place colander/flat lid/steam plate into bottom of stockpot. Place jars, standing upright, on top of colander (this prevents bottom of jars from directly touching the bottom of your pot, which can cause breakage of the glass due to the high heat). Fill stockpot with water (enough to just barely cover your jars when they are standing upright) and fill jars with water. Weigh down the tops of the jars with a lid, or hold them down with tongs. Heat until the water is a rolling boil, and keep it at the boil for 10 minutes.
2. Remove your first jar and lid ring with tongs, pouring the hot water back into the pot. Stand jar on a towel (you can probably touch the jar with your hands after a few minutes). Spoon your preserves or jelly into the jar (preserves/jelly must be at least room-temperature, if not warm), leaving 1/4″ between the preserves and the top of your jar. Wipe off the outside of the jar, the jar lip, and the threads with a damp cloth/paper towel. Place the jar lid centered securely on the jar, and screw down the ring until it is finger-tight. Repeat until you have used up all your preserves.
3. Remove air bubbles by laying jars on their sides and rolling back and forth a few times, then standing upright once more.
4. Using canning tongs (aha! Didn’t think you were going to need them, didja?!), place your filled jars back into the hot water in your stockpot. Add more hot water (if necessary) until the jars are covered by 1″ of water. Clamp on the lid to the pot, and boil for 10 minutes.
5. Once boiling time is done, remove jars from pot using canning tongs. (Again! Extremely helpful at this point.) Set on a towel on the counter to cool. As they cool, you should hear “plink!” “plink!” as the center button on the lids is sucked down to pressure inside the jars increasing. Leave for 12-24 hours without touching. Once time is up, if you are not sure if the jars are sealed, tap the center of the lids with a spoon – they should produce a ringing sound, and the button in the center should be depressed. If you can press down the button or tapping results in a “clunk”, then your jars are not sealed and you have to repeat the process.
Okay, now I’ve certified that I am indeed 100 years old – let me ask you guys: have you ever canned/preserved anything?