After years of buying boxes of Colorado grown fruit at the Farmer’s Market, I decided it was finally time to preserve these delicious fruits for winter eating . With such a short window of ripeness, often only weeks, I have to buy the fruit when the time is right — and hope I get there before the season is over. When the pears arrive in late August, it is always a feast of these juicy sweet fruits for a few weeks when they are at the peak of perfection.
So, when the pears arrived at the Aspen Grove Farmer’s Market last Wednesday, I snagged a box of green ones. Instead of refrigerating them to slow ripening, I left them out in the hot garden and by Monday, they were yellow and ready to eat — and can.
Armed with fresh pears, time and supplies, I started the canning process at 5 pm tonight. The first step was to decide what sugar solution I would use. While researching this subject, I found out that the sugar content can be reduced by using a natural juice instead. What a great idea! Since I had a load of grapes from a friend’s vines, I decided to use juice from these grapes for my pear project. I started out by washing and de-stemming the grapes. Then, I loaded them into a pan (about 8 cups) and covered the grapes with water. I boiled them for 30 minutes and then strained the grapes, separating the juice from the seeds and skins. With 7 cups of fresh white grape juice, I was ready to start peeling the fruit.
After washing the pears, I peeled, cored and sliced them into eighths. The slices went into a solution of 3/4 cups lemon juice and 1 gallon water to decrease browning while I boiled the jars. to sterilize them. I ended up filling about 4 quart jars with what seemed like 20 pears, covered them with the grape solution and then after cleaning the lip of the jars, closing them with new lids and seals. At an altitude of 5400 feet, I added 10 minutes to the 25 minutes processing time. The water bath worked its magic and in 35 minutes, I had 4 jars of freshly canned pears for winter eating. More to come.