The best way to deal with an abundance of pears is the Sally Wise way: bottle them!
We have plenty of plums and quinces that are ripening all over the countryside – down hidden laneways, out in paddocks, often with fruit falling to the ground for the heavily laden branches. People who own the trees are generally very generous with the excess fruit so I’m soon to head to the stove to make this year’s quince jelly and quince cheese from a boxful I was given a couple of days ago.
However, in the meantime there seems to be an abundance of pears about. I love to pickle and spice them, but many people have asked about preserving (bottling) them, so this post deals with the process for doing so. I love preserved pears for breakfast with cereal and yoghurt, for dessert with custard or ice cream or in a pear tart (with caramel sauce).
Pears can tend to discolour once they are peeled and cored and waiting to go into the bottles. You can help prevent this by soaking them in water that has a little lemon juice added. Try using 2 tablespoons lemon juice per litre of water. I find the best way to avoid this discolouration is to fill one jar at a time with the pears, covering them immediately with the preserving syrup. I then don’t need to bother with the lemon juice/water soaking.
Here is the method for actually preserving them:
- Peel and core the pears, then cut in half lengthways
- Place rings on clean preserving jars
- Choose and make the selected preserving syrup (see below), adding 1 teaspoon citric acid to every 8 cups of preserving liquid
- Layer the pear halves neatly and firmly in bottles
- Pour the preserving liquid over the pears right to the brim
- Place lids on jars and secure with clips, or if using screw top jars, screw lids on, then release half a turn
- Place in preserving outfit and fill the preserver with cold water to just under the lid of the bottle
- Bring to 90°C, making sure that this takes at least 45 minutes and hold at this temperature for one hour for jars containing up to 12 cups of product, an extra 30 minutes for larger
- Remove from preserver and place on a wooden board. If using screw top jars, screw lid on tightly now
- Leave to stand for 24 hours
- Remove clips (if used). Check that lids are concave (this means that they have been preserved effectively)
** The liquid can be water, fruit juice or sugar syrup. Sugar quantity in syrups can vary according to personal taste:
Light Syrup: one part sugar, four parts water
Medium Syrup: one part sugar to two parts water
Heavy Syrup: equal parts sugar and water.
I make this syrup up in a plastic jug. For a heavy syrup half fill the jug with sugar, add enough boiling water to dissolve the sugar, then fill the remainder of the jug with cold water, then stir in the citric acid. The syrup is then ready to use.