Canning Pears

If you plan on canning pears, it's important to understand how to determine the best time and types of pears to pick. Though pears ripen across the United States from August through October, few commercially grown pears are ever allowed to ripen on the trees. Instead, pears are picked early to prevent disease and insect infestation.

Ripening pears in a controlled environment also eliminates some of the characteristic grit that forms in the meat of pears. This grit, or gritty texture found in all pears, is formed by cells within the pear called stone cells. Because pears tend to ripen from the inside out, it's best to check the pears often if they have been ripened indoors. A ripe pear can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week without spoiling, but pears that are green will not ripen properly in the refrigerator.

Because of their sweet taste and availability, Bartlett pears (both red and yellow), are considered the best fruit to use for home canning. The fruit can be canned whole, in halves or in quarters and made into pear butter or pearsauce, similar to applesauce.

Pear Care
Pears are one of the most delicate of fruits-even a slight bump will cause bruising. When picking pears for indoor ripening, pick fruit that separates from the branches easily or wait until the fruit begins to drop naturally. Never use soft fruit or fruit that is overripe when home canning. Canning pears that are overripe will change the acid level in the fruit, causing spoilage and the possibility of botulism poisoning, which is deadly. Instead, select firm, ripe fruit and follow all canning instructions completely.

When it comes to growing pears, one dwarf pear tree will yield about one bushel of pears by the end of its fifth year. It takes up much less room than a standard pear tree, which will provide about ten bushels of pears per year, after the sixth or seventh year.

Canning Pears
Keep in mind that there will be about 50 pounds to a bushel of pears, which is equal to about 24 quarts. Never work on more pears than you can physically can in a couple of hours. Pears that are peeled and left to sit will turn brown quickly. For a more manageable load, keep in mind that about 11 pounds of pears will give you approximately one canner load or nine pints.

Home canning pear recipes provide both light syrup and heavy syrup formulas. Either can be used, according to taste. Syrups help the fruit retain flavor, color and shape. Always use exact measurements. The ratios below are recommended for one canner load of pears, either in pints or in quarts.

Ingredients You Will Need for Heavy Syrup:
9 pints-5 cups of water and 3 ¼ cups of sugar
7 quarts-7 ¾ cups of water and 5 ¼ cups of sugar

Ingredients You Will Need for Light Syrup:
9 pints-5 ¾ cups water and 1 ½ cups sugar
7 quarts-9 cups water and 2 ¼ cups sugar

Home Canned Pear Recipe
Pears, as most fruits, are a high acid food. High acid means you can use a hot water bath when canning, rather than a pressure cooker. (Never, however, use the oven, microwave or open kettle bath when canning. The temperature will never reach the level needed to kill off organisms that can cause botulism).

After you have selected firm pears and washed, sorted and peeled them, use a teaspoon from your measuring spoon set to core the pear. Running the spoon in a circular pattern around the butt-end of the pear will easily remove the bottom stem. Remove the top stem and cut the pear in half. Again, using the measuring spoon, run it up and down both sides of the cut pear and remove the core. The pear should be soft enough to do this easily.

Boil pears for five minutes in the syrup. Immediately fill hot jars with the pears, adding enough syrup to cover, leaving ½ inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in a hot water bath.

Boiling Water Bath
Pints should be processed at a rolling boil for 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the altitude (20 minutes for altitudes of 0 to 1,000 feet; 25 for 1,001 to 3,000 feet; 30 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 feet and 35 minutes for altitudes above 6,000 feet).

Quarts should be processed at a rolling boil for 25 to 40 minutes, depending on the altitude (25 minutes for altitudes of 0 to 1,000 feet; 30 for 1,000 to 3,000 feet; 35 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 feet and 40 minutes for altitudes above 6,000 feet).

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