In late October we made our annual trip to Hope Orchards. I have a fondness for the place, as I used to pick apples there as a kid. My mom and step-father still live in the area, so I always have a good excuse to make the trip. It’s one of the relatively few orchards that I know of that sells cider that’s not pasteurized or UV treated, so I like to buy a few gallons for our freezer. They also sell pears, which are not always easy to find at local orchards. Pears are one of my favorite fall fruits, and I love to can pear halves, and also make jams and preserves. This year I bought 40 pounds of utility-grade pears. I canned a bunch of them in apple juice, froze some, and made Maple-Pear Preserves. The preserves were such a hit with the boys that I recently made another batch, using the pears that I’d frozen. The recipe is below, and, to see how easy it is to make, check out this video. Enjoy!
Yield: 4-5 cups
A note about storage options for your preserves:
***This recipe includes directions for canning your preserves. However, you may instead freeze your preserves, or keep them in the refrigerator. To do this, simply omit the canning portion of the directions (steps 7-10), then, after cooking, allow your preserves to cool, place in freezer safe containers, and freeze or refrigerate as desired. If you are freezing your preserves, be sure to leave extra space at the top of your jars to allow for expansion during freezing. Your preserves will store well in the freezer for several months, and in the refrigerator they’ll last for 2 to 3 weeks.
To do ahead of time:
***Prepare the calcium water. To do this, combine 1/2 teaspoon white calcium powder (included in the Pomona’s Universal Pectin package) with 1/2 cup water in a small, clear container with a lid. Shake well before using. Note that you will have more calcium water than you will end up using in this recipe; simply store it in the refrigerator for later use.
To do ahead of time, if you plan to can your jam:
***Wash and rinse five half-pint jars, lids, and screw bands. Set screw bands aside until ready to use. Place jars in hot water bath canner, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil. Sterilize jars for 10 minutes (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.
2 pounds firm, ripe pears (about 4 1/2 medium pears)
1 3/4 cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon calcium water
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons Pomona’s Universal Pectin powder
1.) Peel pears and remove cores, then cut pear into thin, length-wise slices. If pears are especially large, or if you prefer smaller pieces, you may want to cut these slices in half.
2.) In a large saucepan, combine pear slices and the 1 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pears are somewhat soft but still hold their shape.
3.) Remove from heat. Then, measure 4 cups of the cooked fruit, combine in a large saucepan with the lemon juice and the calcium water, and mix well.
5.) In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup and the pectin powder and mix well.
6.) Bring fruit to a boil over high heat. Add maple syrup-pectin mixture, then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over high heat, to dissolve pectin. Return to a boil, then remove preserves from heat.
7.) Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with preserves, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands.
8.) Place jars in the hot water in the canner, place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)
9.) Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes. Then, remove jars from canner.
10.) Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Then, confirm that jars have sealed. Enjoy your preserves! Or, store properly for later use.