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Monday, November 4, 2013

Canning Recipe: Cinnamon Pears

I’ve heard many people talk about “canning” their fruits and vegetables so they can be enjoyed all day long, but for me, it conjured up memories of a favorite show of my sister, “Little House on the Prairie”. This year we were blessed to have been given an overabundance of organic pears and I just didn’t have the heart to allow them to sit and rot. Pears are a fruit I really love and usually only eat seasonally. When Brian suggested we “can them”, I was all for it and thought we would share with you how simple this process really is and it is a great activity for a family too!
Instead of just “canning pears” we decided to spice it up a bit (even though it was our first time) and prepare a recipe called 

Cinnamon Pears. We didn’t buy all of the fancy canning supplies, but rather used a lot of what was already in our kitchen. Here are the supplies we needed. Don’t get intimidated, remember much of this you ALREADY have in your kitchen!

  •  1 very large stock pot (this should allow the cans to sit on the bottom and have the water completely cover them. A minimum of 4 jars should fit, but more is better to save time.)
  • 3 medium saucepans. Yes three. One for the pears to boil in, one for the apple juice and water mixture and one for the lids.
  • 1 large ladle.
  • 1 large cutting board.
  •  2 large bowls. (One for the peeled pears and one for the cooked pears.)
  •  2 sets of tongs. One should have silicone end or an end that has the ability to grip for removing the hot jars from the water.
  • 10 – 12 wide mouth pint jars with lids and bands. Be sure the lids have never been used before. Bands and jars can be reused.
  • 1 – 2 hand peelers.
  • 1 rubber spatula.
  • 1 sharp knife to cut pears in two and remove seeds.
  • 10 – 12 cinnamon sticks.
  • 3-5 lbs. of organic pears. Just depends on how much you want to can. We had about 5 lbs. of pears and canned 10 pint size jars.
  • 1 gallon pure apple juice (no sugar added).
  • Fruit-Freshâ Produce Protector. This is optional, but it great if you want to prevent browning of the produce as you wait for everything to heat up. 

     The pears. Use a hand peeler to peel all of the skins off of the pears. Then cut the pears in half and remove the seeds, then cut the pear again. Place all pears that are cut in a large bowl, sprinkled with Fruit-Fresh Product Protector. The cutting of the pears can also be done as the water is boiling. 

     Setting up the pots. Fill 2 of the sauce pans ¾ full of water.  Fill the final saucepan with ½ apple juice and ½ water (up to ¾ full). Place the pint jars (lids and bands removed) into the large stock pot and then fill them with water (the water will be inside the jars and all around them). The water should be 1-2 inches above the jars.

    Turn the burner for the large stock pot on medium-high heat first. This allows for the jars to slowly heat up and prepare them for filling and the final boil.   

    As the water starts to heat up, turn on the burners for all of the saucepans on medium heat. Place the canning lids in one of the saucepans with water to allow to slowly heat-up.
The jars and lids need to simmer for 10 minutes. The lids should not be overheated, so you can then turn down a bit if they are in longer than 10 minutes. 

The apple juice and water mixture should be brought to a simmer in preparation for the canning.

Place the pears in the other saucepan just filled with water. They will be in there as long as it takes to heat them throughout. I used the metal tongs to test the firmness and pulled them out when they began to soften.  

The Canning Process.
    Remove a jar from the large stockpot (using the tongs with the silicone ends) and place on a cutting board or towel. 

    Use the other set of metal tongs to pick up the peeled pears and place in the jar. Stuff as many pears as will fit into the pint jars, allowing for ½ inch from the top.

     Take a cinnamon stick and put in the jar, along one side.
    Take the apple juice and water mixture and ladle the mixture into the pint jars, covering the pears and filling until there is ½ inch remaining from the top.
    Next you need to remove any additional air bubbles. Place the rubber spatula on one side of the jar and press the pears to the side of the jar. Do this on the other side as well.

    Take a paper towel and wipe the rim of the pint jar. Remove a lid from the hot water and place on the jar. Use the band to secure the lid, not tightening too much, but “fingertip” tight.

    Set jar aside. Continue this process until all jars are filled.
    Once all jars are filled, use the tongs to put the jars back into the large stock pot. Add more water to bring the water to 1-2 inches above the jars. Turn heat back on and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

    Remove the jars after 20 minutes and set in a warm, dry place. 

    Keep the jars approximately 1-2 inches apart. Allow to cool for 12 – 24 hours. Do not try to open or test the seals.

    *You may hear “pops” as the jars are cooling, but this is not necessarily always the case, so don’t worry if you don’t hear as many pops as you have jars. Canned fruit can be kept for up to 1 year. Be sure to write the date on the jars too, especially if you are canning multiple fruits and vegetables.

    We hope you enjoy your experience canning pears! What a delicious treat to enjoy throughout the entire year!

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