Friday, March 09, 2012

preserving pears with the fowlers system

Isn’t there just something wonderful about filling shelves with rows and rows of home- made preserves?

I have only recently begun my adventure in preserving.  With my organic produce garden growing well and living in a community surrounded by small and large farms, I am well situated to put away some of my excess produce and use the very cheap locally grown products.

We are coming into the apple and pear season here.  With my home grown apples, I have tried my hand at apple butter.  Absolutely delish and I recommend it highly!!  I processed them in mason style jars in a hot water bath.  I was really pleased with how the whole process went.  A long but easy process, only requiring attention in short bursts.  Just my style!!

So on to the pears.  I don’t have fruit ready on my pear trees yet (I have Beurre Hardy and Nashi) but I was able to pick up Williams pears for $1/kg from a local orchard.  It is so much more economical buying direct, even compared to the small local fruit and veg shop.

I have been collecting vintage Fowlers Vacola jars from local thrift stores and have amassed quite a collection of mostly size 27 jars.  This size holds about 900ml and is a good size for my family of 6.  We easily use the whole jar on the day it is opened.  As for cost, all up for my 80-ish jars, I have shelled out about $60!!  For a resource that will be used again and again, I think that was a pretty good price!  (Don’t tell hubby, but I spent way more than that to complete the outfit with rings, lids and clips, bottle tongs and wide mouth funnel!!  It’s an investment!!  Shh…!!)

The first time I tried preserving pears, I peeled and cored about 4kg.  Some I halved, some I sliced and some I diced.  I packed them in heavy syrup made with raw sugar. 
Lessons learned from this experience. 
  • Dicing is a much more efficient cut to pack the jars with. 
  • Heavy syrup makes the fruit float in the jar - not good. 
  • Raw sugar gives the fruit a brownish tinge.  Ok to eat, but could look better. 
  • I did not fill the jar full enough with the syrup, did not pack the fruit in tightly enough and did not poke the bubbles out with a skewer.  I need to do these things as they help the fruit not to float and removes air pockets which can spoil the preserve.
  • I also broke a jar from excessive heat!! I placed warm jar into boiling water.  What did I think was going to happen??  Next time place warm jars into warm water and bring to boil slowly.  Glass, pears and syrup floating in the water bath is not fun to clean up!!
We are now eating those pears and not storing them as I don’t think they will last too long.
Consider the lessons learnt!
Even so, with all of these mistakes - learning experiences,

Preserved pears in syrup
Dice all the fruit, pack it in tight and pack in some more. 
Prepare jars.  Wash, dry & place rings on jar.
Fill to top of jar with warm light syrup (2c white sugar in 2lt water). 
Clip lids on jars.
Place warm jars on trivet in large saucepan.
Fill to cover jars with warm water.  Set on stove and bring slowly to boil.
Simmer size 27 jars for 30min.
Carefully remove jars with bottle tongs and leave to cool for 12hrs.
Remove clips.  Wipe jars.  Label with food and date.  Store in cool, dark place.

It is that easy!!

How do you preserve summer fruits?

Linking to Your Green Resource - Wk 24, Frugal Days - Sustainable Ways Wk18

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