Friday, September 21, 2012

Pears, Jam, & Canning

Pears, Jam, & Canning
 Farm & country people seem to be kinder and more relaxed than others.  It's a gentler kind of pace when you're involved with nature the way country and farm folks are.  It's easier to be in touch with the Lord when you spend your days admiring his glory in the simplest of things.  Nothing against anyone who lives in a big city, I'm not trying to get a list full of frustrated comments from anyone.  I'm sure you'll are good people too! :) I'm just speaking of my own personal experiences.  As of late, I've been touched by generosities and kindness from others around me and it lead my heart to this post.  It was outlined to be a post on pears and canning... and I WILL get to that :) but when my heart needs to spill over about some good, I just go for it!

Brantley Gilbert is a country singer (for those who don't know him) and one of my newer favorite country songs is one of his, it's "Country Must Be Country Wide."  Some of the lyrics go like this,

"It ain't where, it's how you live
We weren't raised to take, we were raised to give
The shirt off our back to anyone in need

We bow our heads before we eat
Before we start our day,
before we fall asleep
'Cause in God we trust and we believe

And we see what's wrong
And we know what's right

And old Hank, he said it all
When he said country folks can survive"

Now, I know I look silly grinning all stupid to myself driving my mini van but anytime this song comes on, this part right here strikes a chord with me and I sing loud and stupid and grin all big! :) Maybe seeing me look dumb will brighten someone's day.  I don't know- I just can't help it!
I was browsing the Farm & Garden and Free section on our local Craig's List last week.  I was hoping to find some materials for our next chicken coop or a show quality white Silkie or Silver Ameracauna roo.  What I found instead was a free post for pears.  (see, this is how kindness and pears merge, I told you I'd get there!) 

Evidently some nice family has a pear tree in a field and there's more pears than they want or need.  They posted this ad that if anyone was willing to pick them, they could come do so for free.  Well, I'm all over that.  It sounded like something fun to do with the kids, I've been wanting to learn to can lately, and it's FREE!  When we finished up piano lessons last Saturday, I took the kids on over there. 

It was only one tree but there was more than enough for us (and did I mention it was FREE?  I mean most local orchards charge just to walk onto their fields!)  They even left their long fruit picker out there for visitors to borrow for picking.  How kind is that?  Like I said, country folks helping each other.  We're helping by keeping the mess out of their yard, cutting back on grossness in their mower and bees, and they're allowing us to have free, fresh pears! Just like Brantley's song!  Is it in your head yet?  I'm singing it while I blog!

We had a great time, I think the kids just wanted to play with the long fruit picker mostly but we got the job done.  There were tons of perfectly good pears already on the ground so the girls and I gathered those up first so Chance could be the man and get some of the high ones.  Then everyone had to have a turn with the fruit picker.  You know how kids are so fascinated with anything on a long stick! I was just giddy with myself for such a great score, and for teaching the kids a bit about community. :)
So, now we have this huge mess of pears and I wanted to do something with them.  I've NEVER canned before so I was nervous and there are SO many things out there about it.  I think I've pinned dozens (check out my pinterest boards here).  As I'm discussing this on the Farm Chick Chit Chat Facebook page, one of the other sweet ladies offered up her latest recipe for Apple Pear Jam!  Did I tell you farm folks' kindness is good?  So, my farm chick, sweet friend Janet from over at Timber Creek Farm sent me her Apple Pear Jam recipe to try and the kids and I got moving on it!

Can I first say the directions for canning read MUCH more tedious than they actually are?  I was floored that I can read the classics, edit with photoshop, program all of our electronics, but had to read the canning directions like 10 times!! If it's your first time canning, hang in there.  It's so much simpler than it actually reads.  I'm not sure if it's suppose to scare you or what. :) My dear friend said this morning, "It just seems tedious!" Boy, that was the perfect word for it!  However, now that I've accomplished my first set of canned jam, the next time will be so much easier.  I'm trashing those directions from the Ball labels!

Here's Janet's recipe:
2 cups peeled cored and finely chopped pears
1 cup peeled cored and finely chopped apples
6 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup bottled lemon juice
6 ounces liquid pectin (2 pouches)

Crush the apples and pears in a large heavy bottom saucepan. and stir in the cinnamon. Thoroughly mix sugar and lemon juice with the fruits and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
Immediately stir in pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat, quickly skim off foam and fill hot sterile jars leaving 1 inch of headspace.
Wipe jar rims, and cap the jars.
Process for 5 minutes for 4 ounce jar, 10 minutes for 8 ounce jars in a boiling water canner. **

Yield: 7 - 8 half pint (8 ounce) jars

I was all good until the "Processing" part came in.  Then I became nervous and looney.  It's not that hard, however!  Make sure you put your jars in hot water while you're working.  In hindsight, I would have started those soaking when I began the recipe but I didn't know and waited too long so I had to wait on those. I also didn't realize I should have had the water in my canning pot (or stockpot) simmering while I was cooking. 
This is how I would do it the next time:
Canning 101 with the Jam

Go ahead and set your jars and lids (not the bands though) in the hot water (I just filled my sink up with hot water and set them in that) and get your canning pot about 1/2 full of water and simmering with its top on while you're making the jam.  The jars just need to be warm so you don't bust them when your hot jam hits the glass. 

Make your jam according to the recipe above. 
Once it's finished, I took one jar at a time out of the hot water and set it on my counter.  I used my funnel to ladle jam into the jar leaving the "correct headspace", basically just leave an inch at the top of the jar without any jam.  Now, at this point, I was SUPPOSE to remove air from the side of the jar.  I didn't see any bubbles on the side of the jar.  I figured it might be necessary for a thicker recipe but this jam was pretty good and liquidy so I didn't do this.  I won't PROMISE you I did it the "right" way- it was my first time- but ours turned out okay :) so you decide! If you want to be a good girl and do it the right way, just take a spatula and run it around the inside of the jar between the jar and the jam a few times and make sure there aren't any air bubbles.

Wipe the mouth of the jar well with a damp cloth.
Set the lid on top so the seal is in line where it's suppose to be.
Screw the band on evenly and tightly.
Now, do that with all of your jars until you've used all of your jam (minus what you have to lick because you just can't wait to try it and then of course, what you have to let the kids come lick because now you have to show them what a cool mom you are!)

Once all of my jars were done, I set them on my canning rack (I just had to google the name of that) and gently set them down into my simmering pot.
Increase the water to boiling and then put the top on.
Boil them for the amount of time in the recipe.  I used 8 oz jars so mine boiled for ten minutes.

After ten minutes, I turned off the heat and removed the lid to the pot. 
Evidently, if you take them right out they can crack and that was a big thing on all of the directions I read- let them set in the water to cool in that some for 5 minutes.

Then we took them out of the pot and set them on a kitchen towel upright on the counter and there they set for 24 hours. 

The next day, check to make sure they've sealed and you've just canned your jam!!
I was so excited to have been successful at this!  You would have thought I'd won the Pulitzer or something.  There was just something comforting about all of those jars full of ooey gooey delicious, local fruit that I processed with my own hands with the kids that makes me feel good!  Country folk can survive, right?  Maybe that's what it is but the whole experience just gives me a warm fuzzy!  If you try canning this recipe or another, let us know, we'd love to try new recipes now that we think we have the hang of it and we'd love to hear how your first experience turned out! 

Love & Blessings! 





  1. Great Post Tiffany! Thanks for the link too. I didn't realize when we were "talking" about this recipe that you were a new canning person. I thought just your children were first timers! Glad it worked out for you and the canning directions you added were perfect. Couldn't have said it better myself. I am sure your post will help many other people new to canning. God Bless! OH and I love the song too.

  2. :) Thanks for the recipe, Janet! We LOVE it, we're still eating on it and I've given two jars away to family and friends. I still have a huge bag of pears left so once we pick up more jars we'll be making at least one more batch of it! It's so yummy! :)

  3. So nice to read about your family outing and first canning experience.
    Congratulations on your success! I want to try making a gooseberry/pear jam.