Monday, September 21, 2015

Homestead Kitchen: Brandied Pears

I picked a five gallon bucket full of pears from our tree.  They are the ugliest pears you can imagine, lumpy and misshapen, and mottled.  In spite of appearance though, they are delicious. I researched possible causes, and I believe the pears have a condition called Stoney Pit disease,  which causes the dimples, and small hard pits at the bottom of each dimple.  It doesnt affect the flavor of the pear, but the hard pits have to be cut around.  Evidently, this is systemic in the tree itself, and there isnt a cure, although some years, the pears might not show many dimples at all.

So, disappointing as the pear situation was, this called for alcohol! You cant go wrong with boozy fruit, I say!

Picking through the bucket of pears, I ended up with enough peeled and cored slices to make 6 pints of brandied pears.  And there was brandy syrup left over, which I am not about to throw away, so I canned that up too. If my taste testing before processing is any indication, these will make a lovely dessert this winter, poured over a slice of pound cake with a bit of real whipped cream. Or possibly eaten straight out of the jar.  At midnight, when I am the only one awake.

How to make them? Easy schmeasy.

Brandy, duh, about 2 and a half cups.
About 30 smallish pears, or maybe 10 pounds total, ripened.
Lemon juice, 2 TBS
Sugar, 4 cups
Water, 3 cups (note: I had lots of syrup leftover, so you might get by with less water, and sugar to start with, or boil it down further to reduce it)
Whole cloves, or cinnamon sticks, if desired
6 sterilized pint jars and lids
Large pot or water bath canner if you are going to can these.

Peel, slice, and core your pears.  I tossed mine into a large bowl of water with the lemon juice as I sliced, to keep them from browning. You can also sprinkle the lemon juice over the pears and mix to coat them.

In large saucepan, bring water, sugar, and spices to a boil.  Add the pears, and boil for 5 minutes.
Strain out the pears, and fill your jars up to 1/2 inch below the rim. Leave the syrup simmering while you are filling the jars.
Once your jars are full,  remove the syrup from the heat, scoop out the spices,  add the brandy , and stir to mix well.
Pour the brandy syrup over the pears in the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Remove any air bubble in jars by running a knife or spoon around the edges inside.
Make sure the rims of the jars are clean, and place lids and screw bands securely.

If you plan to can these, you will want to process them in a water bath for 15 minutes, adjusted for your altitude.  Follow directions for general water bath canning procedures.  There are many books and websites with directions.  Here is a good one.
Water bath canning directions

Its not difficult, just basically you are immersing the jars in boiling water for a specified time, which not only sterilizes the contents but also seals the lids on the jars.
Remove the jars from the canner.  If any jars fail to seal,(might take up to an hour)  just put that jar in the frig and use it up within about two weeks. Poor you, being forced to eat them so soon.

And thats it!

And now I have to decide what to do with the approximate 60-70 pounds of apples I have left... and a small box of plums that a friend kindly shared.

I also continue to dehydrate everything in sight. Here are some apple slices, green chiles, cabbage, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

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