Moving, Canning

Sep 12th

I haven’t been blogging for a while.

That’s kind of an odd sentence to type, especially as I was going 4 times per week for quite a while. But September 1 was moving day for me, and in the weeks leading up to it I was stretching myself a little too thin with work, packing, and trying to ward off panic. I took a break, and that one less thing to do made quite the difference.

My new home is awesome, and though there is unpacking yet to go I’m mentally a lot more pulled together. I’ve been seeing friends, spending a lot of time with Chris, and have a trip planned next week to hit up the UK and Ireland to see old friends and meander in the rain. Life is good, and I’m back to blogging.

Anyway, while not blogging I joined Chris in the League of Urban Canners, a relaxed group of people who “harvest local fruit, can it into sauce, jam or butter, and returns 10% of the product to the owner.” I’ve picked both peaches and pears now, and one trip can yield hundreds of pounds of fruit…awesome!

Until I joined the League I had never canned before, but I bought a few simple tools (jars, a funnel, a magnetic lid lifter, and a jar lifter) and went for it. For my maiden canning attempt I used this recipe to use up the pears we picked, a simple spiced syrup recipe.

Pounds of Pears

For this you will need:

  • 6(ish) pounds pears (you can scale the recipe up or down depending on your haul)
  • .66 cup sugar
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • Lemon juice

Start by sanitizing your jars and lids…if you’ve never canned you will find that just bringing the giant pot of water to boil takes a long time. A very long time. You want to boil the jars around 15 minutes, and just lightly simmer the lids.

Sterilizing Canning Jars

Sterilizing Canning Lids

In the meantime start preparing your pears. Skin the whole lot – I used a potato peeler –

Pear Skins

– then quarter the pears and toss them in a lemon juice and water mixture to prevent browning.

Soaking Pears in Lemon Juice

Once you have processed your pears, prepare the syrup. Combine your water, sugar, and spices in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add in your pear quarters, then bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. You want the pears to soften but not turn to mush…the simple syrup helps them keep their shape.

Spicing the Pears

When the jars are sterilized and the pears are cooked, you are ready to can! Using your funnel, pack a jar with pears. You want to push them down and pack them as tightly as possible…then add in a little syrup to fill in the gaps.

Canning - Using a Funnel

The jar is full when you have about .5 inch of headroom at the top. Gently tap the jar on your counter to get rid of any air bubbles, and wipe the mouth of the jar with a damp cloth to make sure it is totally clean.

Canning - A Filled Jar

Remove a lid from the simmering water with your lid lifter, then screw on a band until it is fingertip tight. Return the jar to the water bath being careful to keep it perfectly vertical – if anything touches the lid it can stop the lid from sealing properly. Repeat until all the jars are full.

Then lower your jars into the boiling water for 20 minutes.

Canning - Boiling the Cans

Canning -  Cooling the Jars

Allow the tops to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the jars (again, keep them vertical) and setting them on a flat surface for 24 hours. The lids should then be sealed (they should be slightly indented thanks to the vacuum inside), and ready for storage in a cool, dark place.

Canned Pears in a Light Spiced Syrup

I will admit I haven’t cracked open a jar yet, and I imagine the flavor will develop over time, but the few pear pieces that didn’t go into the jar went right into my mouth…and they were delicious. They tasted very much of pear with a whisper of spice, sweet without being syrupy. I imagine they’ll be fantastic spooned over some greek yogurt or oatmeal, but I’ll let you know when they’re opened.

Also canning is surprisingly easy, and I’m glad I tried it. I’m a lot more comfortable and will keep on canning while I’ve got the fruit to do so.

And it is nice to be blogging again.