Monday, 8 August 2011

Pears

Pears are funny things.  Unripe, rockhard one day,  and mushy and rotten the next.  It's difficult to get them right. 

Our pear tree has been fantastically productive this year, first time we've had lots of pears for a few years.    I'm actually not that keen on them.  I find pears, generally, have something of a bitty gritty texture which I don't like.  

Last time we had a bumper crop, some years ago now, I spent a week preserving them in various guises. We had pickled pears, pears in sherry, pears poached in this, pears poached in that.   Several years later,  I remember tipping the pears away so I could re-use the numerous Le Parfait jars that they occupied.

This year I've been trying a pear every day or two.  Eventually I had one which was reasonably ripe, and DH picked as many as he could.  No point leaving them on the tree, best to pick them and pack them, and leave them in the house to ripen. Bon Flowerdew uses his bathroom, apparently.

Yesterday I went through the crates and pulled out any which were bruised and any that were ripe to overripe.  I then repacked them into small crates, each row separated by crumpled newspaper. I tried extracting pear juice using the Magimix which worked surprisingly well.  I had to have 2 goes as the first time I accidentally left in the puree paddle, which meant we ended up with pear puree instead of pear juice.    Although it worked well, it's only suitable for processing a few pears, but it confirmed that they were ready-ish. 

DH got out the apple mill and press, washed and disinfected everything ready.  And today we processed them.

I washed them, weighed them, and DH crushed them then put them in the press.  We had 21 kilos of pears,  which produced just over 10 litres of juice.   DH used 2 demijohns worth to start of some Pear Cider, 1 put 2 litres into 4 x 250ml bottles which I then heat processed,  and I drank the rest.

I found lots of conflicting information on how long and at what temperature to heat process pear juice.  Because I'm using screw top bottles (with plastic lined lids), I have to use the water bath canning method rather than pressure canning.  This takes a lot longer and uses a lot more water.   I couldn't get a definitely answer on the temperature to use so I decided to use the hottest temperature, which was 75 degrees.  The lowest I'd seen was 60 degrees, and that recipe actually specified "no higher".  But I'd rather overcook it and learn, than undercook it and have problems later.  Fortunately I have an automatic thingy, where I can set the temperature and the time,  so at least I don't have to stand over it trying to keep the temperature constant.

And, athough it's a lot of water,  I can always drain it into a bucket and use it to flush the lavatory!

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