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Of course this applies to most fruits like pears. But not apples; they go to mushy. I can’t think of any other examples, good or bad.
The trick to bottling pears is in the fruit. I buy a bag of green pears, green as in unripe, and store them in the fridge.
Twenty-four hours before I plan to bottle, I take the pears out of the ‘fridge and leave them on the dining-room table, in their plastic bag, to ripen.
Twenty-four hours later, they are ripe enough to eat, but still firm. They will soften right up during the sterilizing process.
I take the stalk-tops of the pears and suck the flesh off the stalk, retaining the stalk in a bowl. A Second Use For Everything!
I slice the pears in half, lengthwise, then half again. Half a pear yields a half a pair of quarter pears. This is a fun conversation to have with a six-year old.
I slice the ¼-core from each segment, retaining the stalk in a bowl. A Second Use For Everything!
The trimmed segments go into a dixie of cold water to inhibit oxidation during the slicing phase.
Here’s the bowl of segments and stalks.
My empty jars are clean and stored in a closed carton, but I always rinse them in hot water, if only to add a bit of heat towards the sterilization process.
If the jar is small, I can fit four quarters lengthwise, and two quarters cut in half across the top. That’s a pear-and-a-half per jar. Pay attention!
If the jar is large, I can fit eight segments lengthwise per jar, with the first four placed skin-outwards at the bottom of the jar, and the next four slotted downwards into the gaps between the segments.
Mine never look as good as the CWA ladies at the Yilgarn Agricultural Show.
Remember the liquor left over from the Pureed Ginger ? Well, a small teaspoon per jar is all you need; remember, the ginger liquor is STRONG!
So strong, I’m not kidding, I pour the liquor into a teaspoon over the sink rather than over the jars. I don’t want any spill to exceed the one-teaspoon dose. Spills go into the sink!
If I making sweetened pears (I make both sweetened and un-sweetened), I mix a sugar-liquor. For six jars of fruit, I use three half-cups of sugar and two small bottles of hot water. Stirred and mixed well in a plastic beaker.
Then I put the liquor into the jars, a half-cup at a time, distributing it evenly, and topping the jars up with hot water should they need it. Each jar now has about a quarter-cup of sugar. Enough to make it sweet, but not sickly.
Why not just put a spoon or two of sugar in each jar and top up with water? I have a suspicion that in the past, grains of sugar on the jar rim have resulted in an imperfect seal.
And here we are, in the sterilizer, with hot water, ready to bring to the boil.
What about that bowl of pear scraps? Well, had we not harvested the pears, they would have fallen to the ground, and some would have germinated.
So a tub of soil gets a layer of pear scraps. I figure nature won’t know that I’ve gleaned the nice part of the fruit.
Covered with about two inches of potting soil, and labeled “Pears 2008/11/08”, the tub will spend winter outside, just as if the scraps were wintering under the tree.
Come spring time, the theory goes, some of the pips that were full-term and did not get sliced in half, will germinate. I’ll thin out the weaker seedlings and have a pear tree.
Next week: “How to snare a partridge”
Toronto, Friday, August 14, 2015 1:13 PM
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