Brooding On

Mmmmm. Pears!

Thursday evening, I enjoyed my 2nd Canning Club meeting.  Three club members tag-teamed and taught the rest of us how to can Cinnamon Pears.  I was a bit skeptical about whether or not I would actually like cinnamon pears, but Little Boy and I pretty much demolished our jar at lunch today!  In fact, though he'd previously negotiated a deal that involved a cookie for dessert, he revised his request once he'd tried the pears:  "Momma, when I eat all of dis (chipped beef on toast), I get more of deeze (cinnamon pears)?"
At the meeting I took copious notes on how to make them, so I'll attempt to make sense of my scrawl, record it here for me to reference later, and allow Jessica, my partner in canning, a peek at what we did since she wasn't able to make the meeting.  ;)

1.  One of the three teachers had brought pears from her father's backyard for us to use.  We peeled, cut out any bad sections, cored, and sliced the pears and threw them into a mix of 1/4 c. lemon juice to 1 qt. water to preserve their color while we worked.  (I think that when I attempt this at home, I will chunk rather than slice.  I think that would be easier for Little Boy to eat.)

2.  We drained off the water and added pears to pre-warmed water.  We then added sugar to the water at a ratio of 2 c. sugar for every quart of water (you need enough water to cover all the pears).  Also, add 1 cinnamon stick per quart of water used.  Then, we added red food coloring to "taste" (is that funny to anyone else?).  I guess this is done so that they look more "cinnamon-y," but, honestly, pink pears are a little weird to me, so I think I'd leave this out if just canning them for our own use.

3. We brought the mix to a boil and cooked for 6 minutes.  Stirring frequently is key during this part of the process to keep it from sticking and burning.  A thick enamel pan works well for canning things that tend to burn easily.  Apparently good enamel pans are difficult to find these days, though.  The one we used in class was given to one of the teachers by her grandmother years ago.

4. We then ladled the pears and juice (removing the cinnamon sticks) into hot, prepared jars.  Packing pretty tightly, be sure that the pears are covered with liquid and leave 1/2" headspace.  Use a non-metal object to poke around and release any air bubbles ("Why non-metal?" I asked.  The response?  A blank stare, followed by a laugh and "because that's what Grandma did!"  Then someone else finally piped up and said that they thought it was because metal might break the hot glass.  One lady said she uses a chopstick or kabab skewer as her "non-metal" object.)  Wipe top of jar clean before adding prepped lids and rings.

5. We processed in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes before removing and waiting for the PINGS!

I got to take a jar home!
Here are the pears I had today with my lunch.

Those chubby little fingers couldn't get enough of these pears!

If you're interested in canning some of your own, I'd recommend this recipe.  The cinnamon gives the pears a kick, and the syrup mix is a lot lighter than what canned pears from the grocery store are coated in.  If you don't have pears growing in your dad's backyard, now's a good time to purchase them at the store.  One of our local stores has them for $.99 a lb. until Tuesday-- check your sale paper (or better yet, your local farmer's market!)