I know this post is a couple of weeks delayed, but I spent some time canning sand pears and wanted to share with you how I did it!
When Wheat and I went home to visit my parents (and got the Swamp Ship!), we also picked a 5-gallon bucket’s worth of Sand Pears.
Sand pears (Pyrus pyrifolia), also known as Asian pears or Apple pears, are common in North Florida and South Georgia. They have a softball-sized fruit that can double as a softball – they’re hard as rocks! They’re also sweet and crisp, hence the “apple” monicker. My dad’s parents used to spend summers at “The Farm” (aka where I grew up), and my Grandmother used to make “Florida Pear Preserves” out of pears from these very same trees! The history of recipes is my very favorite part. I’m so grateful for this family cookbook and for family recipes.
I thought about using this recipe to put up pears (sans paraffin wax sealing!), but I figured that would really limit what I would be able to do with all of them later on. So basically, I just followed the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s guidelines for canning Asian pears. I also had a comment from a reader on my Facebook page suggesting I can them the same way she does – in white grape juice. Once the NCHFP confirmed it, I was sold.
Canned Sand Pears
makes 11 quart jars of canned pears
– approximately 5 gallons of sand pears (aka a 5-gallon bucket-full)
– 3 64-ounce bottles of Welch’s 100% White Grape Juice (or whatever brand you prefer – this is just what I used)
– 1/2 cup or so of lemon juice
– cold water
First, run your quart jars, lids, and bands through a sanitize cycle in the dishwasher, or sanitize them all in a large canning pot. Whichever you prefer.
Add lemon juice to a large bucket, bowl, container, what-have-you. Fill the container about halfway to 3/4 full with cold water and mix. Peel pears and place them in the lemon-water. You can peel all the pears at once, but I did it in batches because I didn’t have a big enough container to hold all the peeled pears. Once I filled the lemon-water container with peeled pears, I moved from the sink to the island and cut the pears into slices. I started out using a mandoline, but the pears are so crisp the often broke on the mandoline rather than slicing neatly. Turns out an old fashioned chef’s knife worked the best. Cut around the core, then slice the sides up into fairly thin slices. I had a pot full of grape juice that I added the slices to in order to keep them from browning. Then I repeated the entire process until the pot was full.
Bring the pot of grape juice and pear slices to a boil. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, pack the warm jars with fruit, then using a ladle, pour the hot grape juice over the pears. Remove bubbles by sticking a chopstick down into the jars or by lightly tapping the jars on the counter (covered in a dish cloth). Place lids on jars, tighten bands, and process in a canning pot for 25 minutes. Remove from the canning pot and set on counter (covered in a dish cloth) until cool. As they cool, they will “pop” and seal. If any don’t seal within an hour or so, put those in the refrigerator immediately.
Some of my pears had ripened more than I would have liked in the bucket between picking and canning, but that’s okay as long as they aren’t too ripe.
I cut one big side off the core (just outside of the picture above on the right), then sliced two more sides off the core as seen above. Then I cut the last side off the core, cut it in half, sliced the rest up, and added them to the pot full of grape juice.
These will be perfect for eating as is, making tarts and pies, maybe on top of yogurt, and who knows what else? Any other suggestions?
I packed the pears in really tightly. If I hadn’t, this probably would have made an even 12 quarts. But why waste that 12th jar? Jars ain’t cheap, and I use as few as possible when canning.
Canned Food Etiquette Note: If someone you know gives you anything in a mason jar, when you finish said canned good, wash the jar and give it back. I promise they will appreciate it!
So tell me: what’s your favorite way to eat canned pears?