A similar jettison of excess food led to the Walnut Butter that I made at the beginning of this year.
I took home about 5-6 lbs. of pears, which needed to sit in the refrigerator for a week, presumably to induce ripening. After I took them out and ate a pear or two, I realized that between Antonia and I, there is no way we would be able to eat 6 lbs of pears before the pears spoiled. The only thing that I could think to do was to can the pears.
This is my first foray into the world of canning. It is a tradition that suburban youths like me, who grew up in Irvine, CA, only heard about when hearing stories about the farm. So how was I to learn of canning? I had the greatest canning resource of all at my fingertips: The Internet.
I settled on the official-sounding National Center for Home Food Preservation website. How much more to-the-point could a website name be?
You can click through to see the procedures in full, but the basic outline is:
1) make a syrup.
2) add pears to syrup, boil until they are soft.
3) Add lemons to increase the acid to act as a preservative.
4) Sterilize mason jars.
5) Fill mason jars.
6) Process mason jars.
It was Step 6 for me that was the least obvious. Up until 6, skipping any step would lead to something other than pear preserves. I had the idea that once the food was placed in the mason jar, the process is finished. I was wrong. The jars are boiled after they are sealed, I think to kill any microbes that are present.
The one thing I will do before I can again is to get the correct equipment. The jar tongs are a must - I don't want to get boiling water on my hands and face a second time. In spite of this small setback, I have discovered an activity that has opened up a new world of cooking for me... and as a bonus, I can eat pears, processed at the height of their flavor and maturity, in the middle of winter. If only these last so long...