Pear harvest to canning ?

eyesofthewolf(8b)July 2, 2010

Hello canning friends, I am back to this forum for some much needed advice. My last and only attempt at canning was some months back with strawberries, it was not the greatest results, they tasted very metalic and never did gel up nice, so now I have a loaded pear tree I believe its bartlet anyway they are very hard and need ALOT of cooking to make softer, I bought the ball blue book and have a recipe I want to try but I really need to cook the pears much longer than the recipe notes. This is the question can I cook the pears to the tenderness that I desire then follow the recipe after that? And if so should I just cook them in water? I bought a new pan that is enamel istead of the metal pan I used for the strawberries, I hope that will take care of the metalic aftertaste. Thanks for the advice :o)Deanna

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readinglady(z8 OR)

It is very important to use a non-reactive pan with acid foods (including strawberries). Enamel will be a better choice or a good quality stainless. Be careful with the enamel because there's a risk of scorching, especially making jams.

Sure, you can cook the pears to the desired tenderness, though if those pears stay hard and don't ripen when left on the tree I'm guessing it's some sort of winter pear and not a Bartlett. They tend to get quite soft naturally if left to ripen. In fact, that variety can easily get overly soft for canning.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 2:25PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree with Carol's info above and would suggest cooking them in either some apple or white grape juice rather than just plain water for a better flavor but water works too.


Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP - Canning Pears

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 2:39PM
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jill2761(Southeast Texas)

Pears don't ripen on the tree. They should be harvested before ripe, otherwise they will be too ripe. They should also be kept in a cool place to finish ripening in the house. If your pears are still too hard, it could be that the pears just aren't ripe enough and you need to let them sit on the counter a few more days. My pears are just about ready also. They aren't Bartlett, but I'm not sure what they are. Mine are generally fairly small and stay green, with a pinkish blush when they start to get ripe. I didn't plant the tree and it has been here for many decades. These pears are generally ripe in June or early July, different than many other varieties. These pears are better for cooking than eating, and my mother has always peeled, cored, and quartered and put them in the freezer. I think she sprinkles some sugar on them. She makes a lot of pear cakes, using her old apple cake recipe. The pear cake also freezes well. This will be my first year of canning pears and making pear preserves.

One way to test pears for when they are ready to be picked, is by how easily they come off the tree. Lift up the pear, and if the stem breaks off easily, without any pressure, it's ready. Another way is to cut the pear and if it glistens inside, it's ready to be picked. If it looks dry, it isn't ready, and you should wait and test another pear a few days later. Around here, I am always antsy to get to the pears before the squirrels do. Last year they got every single one of them from my tree, and most of my mothers.

But again, to reiterate, pears are one of the few fruits that NEED to be picked BEFORE they are ripe. They should not be left to ripen on the tree. They will finish ripening after being picked. I read that they ripen from the inside out, and they will be mealy and mushy on the inside if you wait to pick them when they are ripe on the outside.

Good luck...I picked a few of my own today. I can't wait to try some of the recipes I've seen in the canning books. I also want to make some pear juice or nectar for drinking.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 4:19PM
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jill2761(Southeast Texas)

This may be common knowledge to all, but an easy (well, easier) way to pick pears up high is to take a very long pole, like an extra long wooden broomstick, and nail a can to one end, so that the open end of the can is up. You stand on the ground and use the pole to guide the open end of the can under the pear. The pressure (light) of the can edge under the pear will lift the pear off the tree and it will fall into your can. Thay way you can reach a lot of pears! Sometimes they'll just fall to the ground instead of in your can, but you can just pick them up then. Even short people (like me) can pick pears growing way up high. No ladders needed!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 4:26PM
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Many thanks to all, great tips you have given me, I will be careful with the enamel pot and use apple juice to cook with, jill2761 hey I am so glad you told me how to get those pears from the upper branchs I was thinking of climbing the tree but at 48 years old I might be like a cat and not be able to get back down LOL. I am posting a picture of what these pears look like, I didn't plant the tree it was here when I moved in 17 years ago, every year I just pick them up and throw them away because they are sooooooo very hard and some years not very sweet, but this year they are sweet just not soft even after a week on the shelf. They even stay hard until they rot. I am like you this year trying to stay one step in front of the squirrel that is taste testing, I noticed when he first started he would eat one bite then throw it down, Now he is eating most of the pear so I think they are ready.

does this look like your pears? Thanks everyone:o)Deanna

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 7:05PM
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jill2761(Southeast Texas)

You're welcome! Yes, they look very similar to mine. Same color, but some of mine are a bit larger, with a pinkish blush, and a little more of the pear shape, but many of them small like yours. They make good cooking pears. I brought in a small load today from the lower branches, but I just looked outside my kitchen window and saw two red-bellied woodpeckers and a mockingbird feasting on them up higher. Time to geto ut my pear pole. Also forgot to mention about the can...if you cut a v-shaped notch or two on the edge, it gives a place to "hook" the stem of the pear. Then you can just lift it up. Good luck. I'm heading out now to brave the mosquitoes.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 7:36PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I can't be sure but those look like they could be Asian Pears. Possible? The shape is more of an Asian pear, just like the ones you see at the grocery stores. If so then the canning instructions for them is different from regular pears as Asian pears are less acidic and need to have bottled lemon juice added to them to be safe.

Just something to consider. Perhaps someone more familiar with Asian Pears might know for sure.


Here is a link that might be useful: Canning Asain Pears instructions

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 8:31PM
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Dave I just googled the asian pear and came up with nashi cultivar it looks very very close these pears are round and do not have the soft rich flavor of the pears in the stores. The thing that throws me off is that the chill hours are not as high for my tree to set fruit as for the ones listed, It is a very hardy tree since I moved in I never cared for it at all until this year and it hasn't shown any signs of blight or maybe I have not known what to look for. But you have raised a good question, I think if it is ok I will add the lemon juice to be on the safe side. I checked and it is not grafted from a root stock of another tree so are asian pears able to thrive in clay high ph soil? Well I will continue to search for the correct cultivar maybe someone on the orchard forum will help me identify I will go post the picture there and see what I come up with. Thanks so much. :o)Deanna

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 11:58PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I agree with Dave, those do look a great deal like underripe Asian pears. If you have an Extension agency in your area or horticultural expert (even a local nursery) they should be able to identify for you. That is critical as the texture of Asian pears is quite different (much crisper) than that of the Bartlett pears you mention. Almost akin to apples with a pear-ish flavor. And, of course, as already mentioned, they are lower acidity.


Here is a link that might be useful: Canning Asian Pears

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 2:08AM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

It is not necessarily an asian pear. Here in N Florida the common variety of pear is hard as a rock. My grandmother used to make "pear honey" with them. I don't remember anyone ever eating them, just cooking with them. Here's a link to a fruit tree seller that sells some of the cultivars for informational purposes.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 10:03AM
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Thanks mellyofthesouth I have been on the search for this silly cultivar all morning, also it is self pollinating and like the link you gave me the tree is tough as nails honestly its getting very daunting to find this exact cultivar. I think I will cook a small batch and put it in the freezer and thaw and see if the quality stays. I really wanted to can brandied pears and pear butter but if the ph is not as low as needed for safety I don't want to risk the nasty botulism. I will continue to search. I would really hate to loose the whole crop just because I can't identify it. The tree is most likely 20 years old so I really don't know how many more years it will produce anyway. Thanks :o)Deanna

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 11:47AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I'm sure someone in your locality can identify it for you. The internet is tremendously helpful, but local knowledge and "hands-on" is sometimes the best.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 1:12PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree - a local nursery that deals in fruit trees or a county extension agent could likely tell you just by looking at fruit and leaf samples.

And it isn't that you can't can them, just that you have to add extra acid just as you would to tomatoes.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 2:01PM
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