Country Living Series

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pear peeling party

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!

52 comments:

  1. Looks great! Sorry about having to peel all those pears. We just put up 35 quarts and were able to boil and slip the skins just as easily as peaches. You must have had a different variety of pears than we did.

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    Replies
    1. Well what do you know. I had no idea pears could be peeled like peaches. Ya learn something new every day!

      - Patrice

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  2. Great Job!!! Thank God you had your parents visiting, it's wonderful to have extra hand helping.

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  3. Sixty-two quarts! That's amazing. What a great crew of helpers!

    I'd forgotten until just now... my mom canned pears, and when we were little she would sometimes add just a drop or two of food coloring to each jar, and then surprise us with green or even blue (!) pears, later :D

    Julie G

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  4. Patrice,

    Well I remember doing the exact same thing with my parents. Then I was 30 something, now I am 70, but what joyful memories. Thank you.

    And we ate pears in every way we could imagine for several years before they were all gone.

    Winston

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  5. This reminds me of my grandparent's house when I was growing up. Wish we had pears or peaches but our big canning parties were always for apples, plums, tomatos and cucumbers.

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  6. Patrice,

    After peeling and quartering, my book says to boil for five minuets. It looks like you didn't do that. So, it makes me think it isn't neccesary? That extra step makes me really not look forward to pears.

    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. In my canning bible, "Putting Food By," it gives instructions for raw-pack.

      - Patrice

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  7. Something we do that you might like to try next time - use a melon baller (hand held gadget for making melon balls) to core the pears after they are peeled and sliced in half. Makes it pretty. We also like to make pear sauce, since in this neck of the woods apples are rare. Tastes almost as good. I'm guessing you could throw in a few apples if you wanted to -

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  8. My husband and I just finished up with our pears (42 quarts) on Tuesday night and I am so very relieved to have it out of the way.

    Reading your post reminded me of a question I have. I raw pack my pears (I add the boiling syrup to the jars, but the pears are packed raw). My Mother raw packed her pears, and my Grandma raw packed her pears.

    However, I was playing around online, looking for ideas on how I might "spice" up our pears and ran across this statement, "Raw packing pears is not advised and is not recognized by the USDA as an appropriate method of packing pears for home canning."

    Being that you are a master canner, can you shed some light on this statement and perhaps make me feel a little bit better about continuing the practice of my Mother, and her mother before her. Am I putting my family at risk by feeding them canned pears that have been raw packed?

    Thanks so much.

    Casey (regular reader and fan for 2 years)

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    Replies
    1. We raw pack pears per the instructions in "Putting Food By." I use boiling syrup and process for five minutes longer than necessary (to compensate for our higher elevation). The only negative reference I've found for raw-pack pears is the quality is considered poorer and raw-packed fruit "floats" more than hot-packed. (The issue of poor quality is debatable, since I'm quite satisfied with the quality of raw-packed pears; and I could care less if my pears float) but haven't found anything to indicate the practice of raw-packing pears is dangerous.

      Hope this helps!

      Patrice

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  9. Oh no, you didn't have to hand-peel all those!! Looking at the photos made my hands hurt. I learned a trick from Brandy at TPH a few years back: http://www.theprudenthomemaker.com/index.php/pantry/how-to-can

    You blanch the pears, shock 'em in cold water, and in the bowl of cool/cold water, just fiddle your thumbs/fingers all around the pears and the skins just melt off. Not as 'neat' as peach peeling, but way, way easier than using the peelers.


    Casey, I raw pack just about everything. I don't have the time (I have an 8yo, 6yo, 4yo, 2yo that we also homeschool) or the stovetop space, or even patience for that when I'm attempting to whip through dozens of jars a day (my record was 91 jars in 36 hours last weekend). My Ball canning books have recommendations/methods for both raw and hot packs, not just one.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! As I noted above, I had no idea you could heat-peel pears. Nice to know for next time!

      - Patrice

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    2. Does anyone have a recipe for Old fashioned pear preserves with coconut? I am searching as this was requested by my father in law?

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  10. I wish that I had room to store 60 qts of anything, let alone pears, It would take me and my 90 yr old Mother 5 years to eat them. My problem is storage space that won't freeze. We met at the Col Sprs show, enjoy your bog. I showed the pic of your pantry to Mother, her only comment was "Oh my word".

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  11. wish someone would truck some of that fruit to the deep south of mississippi...

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  12. We are having a fair pear crop this year. Last year with the drought they were so small that it just didn't look worth while. The wife just had Knee surgery today but I hope that with my help and a friend's we will be able to can a bunch this year. Yours look scrumptious!

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  13. You won't have to can pears for a few more years perhaps. Nice job!

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  14. Patrice,

    Do you have a dishwasher? It seems you are always hand washing scores of jars! If not, you deserve one (or two)! I remember boiling baby bottles with my first child, and it was SO much easier the second time around using a dishwasher instead!

    Sure wish you lived nearby so you could teach me to can! I'm in Central Florida and our local ag extension doesn't offer classes, and my cousin who did go to the classes in her area is too scared to try for fear of poisoning her family! I've had a large Presto canner in a box now for six years and it's never been used!

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    Replies
    1. Nope, no dishwasher, and it's the last thing I'd want. I've never minded doing dishes by hand, even when I was a kid. Go figure.

      You can teach yourself to can! That's how I learned. Follow the instructions on your Presto TO THE LETTER and get yourself a good reference book (I recommend "Putting Food By") and you'll be on your way.

      - Patrice

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    2. I have a dishwasher, but much of the time I wash my dishes by hand anyway. Sometimes I get lazy and use it though! My late mother-in-law had a small kitchen, so she used her dishwasher for storage (corning ware mostly) and washed her dishes by hand. I am canning pears now, you talked it up, I guess!!

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  15. Amazing! What an inspiration you are Patrice!

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  16. My canning bible - er book (Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, 400 recipes) says you can raw or hot pack pears. I have always raw packed. One thing I couldn't tell from your pictues - I place my pealed pears in lemon water to keep them light and white until I place them in my jars; did you do that step? We like a "very" light syrup 4 cups water to 1 1/4 cups sugar. Less sugar and the fruit is still sweet. I use that ratio for all my fruit: apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, apples,and pears.

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    1. I got the hot syrup over the pears so quickly they didn't have time to brown. Had I been doing this many pears on my own, I would have used lemon juice to inhibit browning.

      - Patrice

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  17. question; do they have to be peeled? why can't they be quartered and canned with skins on?
    thanks.
    deb harvey

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    1. I would imagine it's because the peels would come off during the canning process. As other people have commented, pear skins can be removed by dipping them in hot water then "shocking" them with cold water (like with peaches or tomatoes), so it's like the skins would come off during the canning process.

      - Patrice

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  18. How long will it take you to use all those pears?

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    1. Depending on how many fruit salads we make over the winter, these could last a couple of years.

      - Patrice

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  19. Oh, this reminds me of when we make apple butter. But it takes 12 hrs for the apple butter to cook down. Yep, a long day.

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  20. Oh, my...YUM...YUM! Pears are my absolute "favorite-est" fruit of all time. There aren't many foods I would choose over those - not even chocolate.

    I can just taste the juice running down my chin. I could eat a whole quart of those by myself in one sitting! And then I'd drink the syrup!

    Just Me

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  21. Do you ever dry pears? Bosq are my favorite to dry, they are a yummy sweet treat!

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    1. I actually don't care much for dehydrated fruit, though we do own a dehydrator. Just a personal preference.

      - Patrice

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  22. Could you use your apple peeler for the pears? I feel as though I've done that in the past...just a thought.

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    1. Didn't work before, but then the pears were over-ripe that time. I didn't try it this time -- maybe I should have?

      - Patrice

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  23. How do you put the cold jars that are waiting their turn, in a hot vat of water? I always thought everything had to be kept hot? I've also read that when doing a water bath you have to boil jars 10 minutes before filling to sterilize. It's all so confusing. I ordered the book you recommend. I've just started canning more than jam. I tried apple chucks because of the ones you did.

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    1. Nothing needs to be sterilized! The canning process is your sterilization. That's why you put in a pot of water and boil it briskly for 20-30 minutes. Why else do that?

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    2. Anon 12:56 is right -- jars should be CLEAN of course, but the only time you have to sterilize them is when they'll be processed for ten minutes or less in a water-bath (such as with applesauce). Otherwise the processing itself sterilizes both the jars and the contents.

      As for keeping the jars hot -- it's impossible to do if you're processing as many pears as we were. However due to the boiling syrup I ladle over them, the jars stay WARM until I have a chance to process them. The only reason this is important is because placing cold jars in boiling water risks breaking the jars. Warm jars are usually fine.

      - Patrice

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    3. This is probably "wrong," but after sanitizing our jars, we keep them in the oven, which is set at 225 degrees.

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    4. I wash my jars in bleach and dish detergent water and then rinse!!!!

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  24. Patrice,
    My girls and I canned (and dehydrated) a case or two of pears last year, and we left the peels on. They turned out fine. (Luckily, my kids are not connoisseurs!)

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  25. If you eat one jar of pears a day for a year... hmm... you need to gift some people with jars of pears. Yeah, they'll last a few years, but there's more coming next year, and the year after, etc.

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  26. Hi, I just finished canning 7 quarts of applesauce and then I did 3 quarts and 3 pints of apple chunks with the leftover apples that didn't fit in the applesauce pot. I did cold pack with the chunks, putting hot syrup over them, put the lids on then put them in the canner. The water wasn't boiling yet. When I was putting in the second to last one I heard a funny pop but went ahead and put the last one in. After it was boiling a bit I heard funny rattling so looked inside. Low and behold one of the pints had broken and apple bit were floating around on top. I skimmed off the apples, too out the floating jar and processed the rest of them. When I took off the lid all the jars were floating! I'm assuming the sugar water changed the density of the water bath so the jars could float. I carefully removed them and set them on the towel on the counter. Some of them were oozing from the lid. What do you think? Are they ruined? Will they seal? Do I have to eat them all this week? :D Thanks for all your great info on canning!

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    1. The occasional broken jar does happen, so don't let that alarm you. It doesn't sound like you did anything wrong, so it could be the jar had a hairline fracture that just finally broke.

      Most of the time jars will ooze when they're removed from the canner (NEVER tip the jars sideways when you remove them -- lift them straight up and down), so if the jars sealed, it means they're fine. Assuming you're using disposable lids, listen for the "pop" as the lid seals. Even if you don't hear it, you can test the seal by gently pushing on the lid with your finger. If it pops in an out, it's not sealed. Also, when you remove the rings (and remember, jars shouldn't be stored with rings on) an unsealed lid will usually come off.

      - Patrice

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  27. Hi. I just finished canning 7 quarts of applesauce. With the apples that didn't fit in the applesauce pot I canned 4 quarts and 3 pints of apple chunks cold pack. When I put the second to the last pint in I heard a funny pop but I went ahead and put in the last pint and started processing. I started hearing a funny rattling so looked in the pot and found apple bits and a pint jar floating around. I skimmed off the apple bits and removed the jar then finished processing. When they were done and I took off the lid all the jars were floating on their sides! I carefully righted them and took them out. Some were oozing from the lids. I think the syrup from the broken jar changed the density of the water and the jars floated. Do you think they will be ok and seal? I might just be eating apple chunks all week! Thanks for all your good info!

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  28. PS They all sealed! I'm eating them first though!

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  29. If the parents live in California bringing in fruit is a legal issue. Not allowed to bring in fruit, plants or anything like that. :P

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    1. No worries, at the time my parents were staying in Coeur d'Alene for a couple of months.

      - Patrice

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  30. Did you cold pack or hot pack the pears? I keep reading that hot packing it better but it would be nice to be able to just skip that step. Also, I can't wait to see if I can slip of the skins like a peach...that would be great! Carey

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  31. I used bartlett pears when canning and my grandma tried a batch with the skins left on last year.They tasted great! So now when I do canned pears I just remove the core after I quarter them and pop them in the jar.

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  32. Does anyone have a recipe for old fashioned pear preserves with coconut as my father I law has requested it?

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