Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pear Pressure

The dogs wake me up every single morning, generally earlier than I'd prefer to get up. Some days I get up, let them out, feed them, and collapse back in bed. Some days not. Today I realized I'd like not only to keep to a sleep schedule that works, but also that I had something to do.

Generous friends are one of life's many many blessings. I try to spread my garden produce around, so sometimes willing friends are the key (I'm looking at you, cucumbers!). But today I processed the fruits of another friend's generosity. Jenny's mom has a pear tree. Now I have pears.

I'd gathered up what I needed to preserve them some days ago, but they really weren't ripe, as so comically noted by Eddie Izzard. Pears show up around minute 5. . .

In the quiet of the morning, however, armed with a pot of tea and the already-read newspaper by my side, I got going. Pot of syrup starting to simmer (I use a very light syrup; I don't want to candy the fruit. . .), jars sterilizing in the pressure canners, lids washed and in hot water, time to cut some pears! That cutting board was a gift from my woodworking father in law. I use his cutting boards all the time.

And, you know, they weren't perfectly ripe. Maybe two more days might have done it? Or maybe they'd all be mushy like that one sneaky one. I figured that since they were going to simmer, I could err on the side of firm.

My measuring spoons were easily repurposed into cutting tools.

And I also had a bowl of water and lime juice. Ideally, they wouldn't get any brown spots, since they aren't exposed to air for very long. Peel, soak, simmer, jar. . .

Am I the only cook who amuses herself? I sing, I talk to the food, and today I made owl noises:

Who, who, who's tired of pears already?

Simmering in the syrup, along with a couple of vanilla beans for flavor. I tried some whole, because I thought they'd look pretty in the jar (and maybe in the future on a plate).

From syrup, into jars, then into the canner. I watched the pressure properly -- ten minutes at six pounds, since we're pretty much at sea level here.

I even waited for the pressure to come down all on its own, as directed. But then I made at least one mistake, and it's probably personality-driven. Despite my commitment to slow things like knitting, cooking, and growing, I tend towards a smidge of impatience. So I conveniently forgot the instructions to cool the jars in the canner after removing the pressure regulator for ten minutes. That may be the secret behind the siphoning of the syrup -- or it may be an artifact of the lids. At any rate, they're not the perfect product I'd hoped for.

I bet they taste good, though, and will be even sweeter for thinking of their friendly source.

Added later: They are distinctly pink now, but some noodling around on the interwebs suggests that it's just the way it goes sometimes, and we're not going to die a horrible pear-induced death. Next time, I'm going to try waterbath instead of pressure canning them.


Kristin said...

Those pears look splendid in the jar. Nicely done.

Stefaneener said...

Thanks, Kristin! They're a slightly pinkish tone. The vanilla? Some death-dealing bacteria? I guess we'll find ouuuuuutt.

Daphne said...

So pretty. I hope some day to get pears to can. I love canned pears. Weirdly I don't like them quite as much fresh. I think that is the only fruit like that for me.

Stefaneener said...

Daphne, asking around seems like a reasonable approach : ) someone has to have too much something.

I like both peaches and pears canned more -- oh, and apricots, too. Lucky me.

Melissa said...

Soooo sick of pearrrrrssssss.

I usually gladly accept free food, but had to stop at the pear situation.

I don't even like pears fresh!

Jill Shearer said...

Before I hacked my pear tree to death in a an attempt to save it from black curly leaf we used to get a TON of pears. Slightly underripe pears can fabulously in a water bath. We did a batch with a couple slices of ginger - delicious!

Stefaneener said...

Melissa, I'm willing to take pears off of folks' hands. . . and I, I am sick of cucumbers. Sick, I tell you!

Jill, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. But at least fewer pears.