By Donna Zitter Bordelon
It doesn’t have to be a jarring experience. You can can! Summer’s bounty of fruits can be enjoyed through the winter with homemade jams, jellies, butters, conserves and spiced fruits. The following recipe requires a large stainless-steel saucepan, a large bowl, a small pan for jars and lids and a large-deep canning pot. You’ll need a wire rack or a cake cooling rack to fit in the bottom of the pot to elevate the jars, a slotted spoon, a large spoon, tongs and measuring cups, along with a jar lifter — helpful to remove jars from the hot water.
4 pint Ball/Mason jars with lids and bands
5 lbs. Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and halved
5 cups water
Juice of 1 lemon
1½ cups sugar
3½ cups water
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods, optional
Brandy (1/4–1/3 cup per jar)
Put your clean jars into the large-deep canning pot with a rack in the bottom, and fill the pot and the inside of the jars with water to cover them. Bring the water to boil for 10 minutes. Reduce to simmer.
Put your clean lids into a small pot of water, and bring water to a simmer to heat them.
In a large bowl, put 5 cups of water and the juice of 1 lemon.
Peel, core, cut pears in half and submerge pears in bowl of lemon water to prevent browning.
In a large, stainless-steel saucepan, add the water and sugar. Over low heat, stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the spices and pears. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to simmer, and cook pears, in a single layer, for about 5 minutes or until just tender. Cook pears in batches, if they do not fit in a single layer. Remove pears with slotted spoon, setting them aside until all are cooked.
Remove clean, hot jars from large-deep canning pot, emptying water back into pot.
Set jars upright on clean dish towels on countertop. Keep pot on simmer.
Pack hot pears into jars. Divide hot syrup to fill jars about ¾-full. Top off with brandy/syrup, covering pears, leaving ½-inch headroom from the tops of the jars.
Gently tap jar sides, and run plastic knife/skewer around edges to release air bubbles.
Wipe the rims of the jar with a damp towel.
Put on lids and bands until just “finger tight.”
Place filled jars carefully back into large-deep canning pot (making sure there is 2 inches of water over the jars). After the water returns to full boil, boil for 20 minutes. Turn off heat.
Carefully remove jars to clean dish towels on countertop.
Let cool. After 24 hours, remove bands and check lids for a tight seal.
If not tightly sealed, refrigerate and use soon.
Age sealed jars 4–6 weeks or up to one year stored in cool, dark location.
Eat well, live long, enjoy!
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)