The last fruit I wanted to can up this season was pears. A local fruit stand in town gave me a good price per box, so I ordered five boxes.
The day I picked them up -- the very day -- a dear friend said, "I have two boxes of pears for you." Then two days later (I'm not kidding) yet another friend said, "I've been picking pears from my tree -- would you like some?"
Let's just say I've been very generous in distributing pears to our neighbors.
But while the fruit was beautiful, I was faced with a daunting task. Unlike peaches which can be dipped in hot water then easily peeled, pears must be hand-peeled. One by one. One hundred and twenty-five pounds' worth of them. Ug.
So my dear parents (who are up visiting for a couple of months) bravely volunteered to join us for a pear peeling party. The fools.
They came armed (with peelers) and dangerous.
Prior to their arrival, I set up "stations." This is the clean-jar station. I was estimating we'd get about 60 quarts, so I washed what I had room for...
...and also hauled out some old jars given to us over the years and prepared to clean them as well.
This is the syrup station.
I like using a light syrup when canning fruit, which is a 2:1 ratio of water:sugar.
I also decided to do something I hadn't done in a long time: since we would be processing the pears as quickly as possible, and since stove space was at a premium and I didn't have room to pre-heat my Tattler lids, I decided to use disposable lids. I haven't used disposables in two years.
My parents arrived, and we all dived into the pears.
The piles grew, of peels as well as peeled fruit. At first I quartered and cored and packed jars while everyone else peeled. Then soon my mom and I both packed jars and my dad quartered and cored, while the girls continued to peel. We got into a rhythm and waded through those 125 pounds in about four hours of hard work.
Filling packed jars with hot syrup.
I had two canners going simultaneously (the pots held twelve quarts between them)...
...with a timer on each canner so I could keep track.
Soon full jars started replacing empty jars. (There's a roast in the crockpot in the center of the photo -- had to feed this hungry crew when we were finished!)
Pretty soon we were all getting a little punch-drunk from the repetitious work and started getting a little silly.
And, well, let's just say that Younger Daughter had to take a shower later on to wash some pear pulp out of her hair.
Meanwhile I kept washing jars and my mom kept filling them, and soon the full jars were overflowing onto the floor, waiting to be processed.
Overflow even spilled into the living room.
But finally, after a lot of hard work, we neared the end.
Needless to say there was a lot of cleanup. The floor was sticky (I mopped it the next day) and the table was slimy with pear juice. But with the help of many hands, the tired crew got everything cleaned up and we all sat down for a well-deserved dinner. None of us wanted to see another pear for a long, long time. My parents even declined to bring any of the extra fruit home with them, the cowards.
Nonetheless, by the end of the evening we had 62 quarts of pears. Nice reward!