I Can-Can!

Tonight I decided to try my hand at canning. This was my first time embarking on this task solo. Other times that I have canned I’ve had my Mom holding my hand. Yep, for all the homemaking that I embark on canning has remained something that I’ve been slightly intimidated about. No more! I have conquered this beast!

Just as I mentioned in this post about making blackberry jam, canning does not have to be done huge batches, as many people assume. It can be done in a stockpot on the stovetop in small batches. Tonight, I tried my hand at canning some fresh pears from my parents orchard. I was pretty conservative in my efforts and only ended up with 3 half-pint jars. Yeah, yeah, yeah…all you canning pro’s are laughing right now. But only worrying about 3 jars was perfect for my first time solo-canning. Next time, maybe I’ll double my batch :)

First I peeled and cut up my pears and placed them in water that had some Fruit-Fresh mixed in (to keep the pears from browning). Lemon juice is also a great option to prevent browning. Once I had all my pears peeled, cored, and sliced, I heated them in a simple syrup. Simple syrup is ridiculously easy. Basically, you mix two parts sugar to one part water. Heat your water to a boil and add sugar. Heat and mix until sugar is dissolved completely. Voila! Simple syrup!

I heated my pears for about 5 minutes while I prepped my jars and lids. It’s important to wash/sanitize and heat your jars and lids before you add your fruit. I was using a large stock pot to process my jars, so first filled my pot with water and heated my empty jars in it. I heated my lids and rings (which I realized afterwards that it’s not necessary to heat the rings, duh) in a small sauce pan. Basically, by heating the lids you’re softening the rubber seal.

Once my jars were ready, I removed them and placed them on the counter to be filled. I ladled the fruit into a glass measuring cup and funneled it into each jar. Once the fruit was packed into each jar I added the simple syrup liquid to about 1/2 inch from the rim. It’s also important to release any air bubbles from your jars. You do this by using a gently inserting a knife or a plastic spacer (like the one from this Ball Utensil Kit) on the side and pushing your contents towards the center of your jar. You’ll see a few bubbles rise to the surface of your liquid.

After I removed all the air bubbles, I wiped the rims off and used my handy-dandy magnetic lid grabber thingy to fish my lids out of the simmering water. Once the lids are in place I gently screwed on the rings and placed the jars one by one into my stock pot of almost-boiling water.

I covered my pot and boiled the jars for about 15 minutes. I carefully removed each jar from the pot and let them dry/cool on a dishcloth. After about 5 minutes of sitting on the counter, I heard the pop-pop-pop of the lids letting me know that the jars sealed successfully!

And that, my friends, is how I canned my first 3 jars of pears! I’m sure my next batch will be done slightly different. I’ve found a few other ideas that may be fun to try (like this and this). Thankfully, there is no shortage of pears at my parents orchard and they’re coming to visit next weekend! My mom is a canning wizard- just tonight she posted on Facebook that in the past 24 hours she has canned blackberry jam, vanilla bean pear jam, and zucchini relish. I said, “Teach me your ways, oh wise one!” Hopefully I’ll get a few pointers from a pro next weekend :)

Have you tried canning anything lately? Did you end up with a huge haul or just 3 measly jars? Any tips that you’d like to pass along? :)

Homemaking some more,
Mrs. Edwards