It is officially harvest time and officially fall and I am officially so excited about it that I’m about to explode. This is high gear food preservation season for me. I have an ant-and-grasshopper parable complex and I start flying around stuffing things maniacally into jars. My benchmark -and you may have heard me mention it before- is “Would I love to eat this in the middle of winter?” If the answer is yes, I figure out a way to preserve it. Since freezer space is at a premium (I’m saving room for the venison that I’m hoping will fill it), I rely on canning to hang onto that harvest freshness year ’round.
I’ve had to scale back my canning efforts this year due to a busy summer schedule, but this has been a good thing. I’ve had to focus on what we really want to eat, what we want to give as gifts, and what makes me weepy-happy to have on the shelves. Among those are home canned pears. Not just any pears, mind you, but my favourite ginger pears in dark syrup.
Home canned pears are -on their own- some of the best things on earth: tender, sweet, and full of pear-y goodness. When you add just a smidge of the warming power of ginger to those pears, they absolutely sing. Hang on. I need to channel my best internal infomercial hawker.
But wait… There’s MORE. Not only is this one of my favourite things to eat, it’s one of my favourite kinds of recipes; it’s a three-fer! Three recipes for the price of one!
How is this even possible? Oh gosh. It’s so easy, it’s almost criminal. You know how light fleshed fruits brown when cut unless they’re treated with lemon juice, fruit fresh, citric acid solution or somesuch? That little lemony bath that prevents your pears from becoming ugly and brown does double duty. After all the pears soak in it, you leave just a couple in the drink and boil it, then strain. Ta da! A delicate, mild pear juice with a bit of body. And the pears you soaked? You warm them and then pack them in a dark ginger syrup (courtesy of raw or brown sugar) that has been steeping some finely sliced ginger. You pack the extra syrup -because there WILL be some- into other jars and Vi-Oh-Lee! You have pear juice, ginger pears in dark syrup, and ginger pear syrup.
Let’s examine the possibilities, because they’re numerous! Aside from eating the pears straight from the jar, you can bake them in a crisp, eat them on vanilla or pumpkin ice cream, serve with roasted pork, toss into smoothies or winter fruit salad. Yes, you can drink the pear juice as is, but it’s wonderful in party punch or hot toddies, and since it is sweet enough without added sugar, it’s wonderful for the kiddies. “Dark ginger pear syrup?” you say. “What do I do with THAT?” Oh people. Oh my. You drizzle that on ice cream, over apple pie, add a tablespoon or two in apple or pear crisp, use it in mixed drinks, or pour a little over ice then top off with seltzer for -wait for it- GINGER PEAR SODA. Holy moly.
Is there work involved? Yes, but it is worth every second of effort. I even have a tip to share with you on how to get through the pears more easily (although it’s playing it a little Thomas Keller)… After hours upon hours of pear processing over the years, I’m happy to say that I have the method. Here’s how it’s done:
- Cut the pear in half. Seriously. Start here before you peel it.
- Use a vegetable peeler -not a paring knife- to peel the pear. That way you only pull away the skin and don’t lose any precious pear flesh.
- Use the small end of a melon baller to remove the tough core at the base of the pear.
- Use the larger end of the melon baller to remove the seed area from the pear.
I can’t wait to hear how you use your Three-In-One Pears. I’ll just wait here slurping them right out of a jar.