Pears are ripening now, and available at markets across Ontario. Years ago I planted one tiny pear tree, and had so much success, that my husband planted a little orchard for me. The trees were easy to grow and hardy. My husband watered them regularly, and we just protected them from rabbits with plastic covers. The we planted at least 4 different varieties and found them to be relatively resistant to pests and low maintenance compared to other fruit varieties.
I was always looking for pear recipes, and often made pears in brandy as a gift for friends at Christmas. The recipe is from the Bernardin website. I just found a 2 year old jar of them – I feel tempted to open it – but I’d better not. One year should be OK though……
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After I finish the rest of my preserves I will try this recipe again – if the fruit flies haven’t taken over my house first.
This makes about 6 500ml jars – this is the perfect size for a gift and if the pear slices are sitting upright – they fit snugly.
6 pounds fresh pears – I would say about 18 medium sized pears
2 lemons, zest and juice
1 -1/2 cups water
2 -1/2 cups granulated sugar
1- 3 inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups brandy (more if you have a helper sipping)
• Sterilize 6 clean 500 ml mason jars and rings in boiling water. I always prepare a few more jars for leftovers – if I’m lucky.
Zest the lemons – try to use one continuous piece so that it is easy to remove from the syrup later! You can use a vegetable peeler, or a lemon spiraler – but don’t worry – it doesn’t need to be fancy. Squeeze the lemons into a 2 cup measuring cup. Add water to bring level up to to 2 cups.
Pour lemon mixture into a stainless steel pot. Add the zest, sugar and sliced ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes stirring.
The order that you prepare things in will depend on how handy you are in the kitchen – or if better yet – you have an assistant. You can peel and slice the pears ahead of time if you like – but if you do you might want to prepare a mixture of lemon juice and water to keep the peeled pears in to prevent discolouration from happening. Just use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice mixed with 3 cups or so of water. Place peeled pears in the mixture – while you are getting everything else ready – then drain when ready to can. Cut out and dispose of any soft pieces of pear – and use nice firm chunks.
The pears look the nicest when you slice them into long spears and placed upright in the jar – but I just cut nice 1 – 2 inch pieces. The recipe says to peel, halve and core pears – but nice slices look good!
Add drained pears to the boiled syrup and return the mixture to a boil for a minute or two.
Place in jars:
With sterilized 500ml jars ready – distribute pears evenly into the hot jars. They should fill the jar to 3/4 inches of the rim.
Add 1/4 cup of the brandy into each jar.
Add the hot syrup to each jar (remove the lemon rind) – to cover the pears completely and reach 1/2 inch from the rim. Use a non-reactive spoon to push the pears gently down below the liquid and to remove the bubbles. Add more pears, brandy or syrup if necessary to redistribute evenly.
Warm sealing discs in the hot water. Wipe rim of each jar to remove any spills. Place the discs on the jars. Add the sterilized screw bands to fingertip tightness.
Return jars upright to the hot water. Make sure each jar is covered by 1 inch of water. Boil at full boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat – let sit for 5 minutes – then remove jars from water – keeping upright.
Let jars cool – as they cool, they should make a popping sound as the jar lid curves inward. This indicates a proper seal.
We enjoy serving brandied pears over vanilla ice cream or over angel food cake with whipped cream.