Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pear Sauce

I know I haven't been posting quite as much lately, and I am sincerely hoping to remedy that soon, but with a new year of teaching beginning and lots of changes at work, it has been a little difficult to get to the computer to talk about food. 

This weekend, however, really makes me want to talk about food and really made me want to be in the kitchen.  It has been lovely.  Cool, crisp air with hints of fall in the colors on the trees.  I am officially in nesting mode.  This always happens to me this time of year as I'm sure it happens to many of you.  I just want to stay at home, plant flowers outside, and cook away.  I spent this weekend baking a delicious pumpkin chocolate chip pie (more on that to come) and realized that I still needed to tell you about some of the pear goodies I canned before it's too late and not a (local) pear is to be found. 

So, I'm going to take this opportunity to tell you about the pear sauce I made using those old-fashioned hard pears from my mom's backyard tree.  Any pear would do, but they should be ripe and sweet.  The sweeter the pears, the less sugar you will need to use, so choose wisely. 

Pear sauce is just like applesauce but made with pears.  It can be eaten alone, used as a condiment to roasted meats, or used in baking.  The instructions below are much more of a method than a recipe.  You will need to increase the ingredients to fit the quantity of pears you have on hand.  I multiplied the quantities below by four because I had 12 pounds of pears, but you can certainly do smaller batches.  Every 3-4 pounds of pears will yield approximately 2 pints of sauce or 1 quart.  Therefore, my twelve pounds yielded about 8 pints of sauce.  You can adjust the amount of sugar after tasting, using more of less as desired, but do not change the quantity of lemon juice as it is necessary for proper acidity and to prevent your pears from browning.  You can also add spices to the sauce, if desired.  Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg would all be tasty additions.   

You also have two options for peeling.  If you own a food mill, you can skip the peeling and seeding step because the food mill will remove those elements when you pass the pears through it.  If you do not own a food mill, you will need a food processor in which case you will need to peel and seed the pears before cooking so that they can go directly into the processor when soft.  Below I give directions for both.  

Pear Sauce- yields 2 pints or 1 quart (increase quantities for larger batches)

3-4 pounds of ripe, sweet pears (peeled and seeded if using a food processor, unpeeled if using a food mill)
1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice (bottled lemon juice has consistent acidity)
1/4-1/2 cup water (to prevent sticking and help create a desirable consistency)
2 Tbsp sugar (you can increase or decrease this amount as desired)

Prepare your jars, lids, and boiling water canner.

Combine the water and lemon juice in a large nonreactive pot.  Place the prepped pears in the pot and toss with the lemon water to prevent browning.  Bring the pears to a boil over medium high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer until the pears are soft and tender, about 20 minutes. 

Remove the pot from the heat and cool several minutes. If using a food mill, pears can be added peel and all to the food mill and passed through to create a sauce.  If using a food processor, scoop your peeled pears into the machine and process to your desired consistency. 

Place the sauce back into the pot.  Add sugar to taste, adjusting depending on the sweetness of the pears.  Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching. 

Ladle hot sauce into hot pint or quart jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and top each jar with a sterilized lid and ring.  Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes for pints or 20 minutes for quarts (adjusting time for altitude as needed). 

Remove jars from the canner and place on a towel to cool for 24 hours.  Check seals, label, and store. 

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  1. I made some pear sauce yesterday for the first time. The recipe I followed did not have an acid added to it and now i'm a bit worried that it may have problems. Thoughts?

  2. Anonymous, I am sorry I cannot tell you for certain if the pear sauce is safe for long term storage without adding acidity. Pears are less acidic than apples. They fall between a 3 and 4 (sometimes even higher) on the pH scale. I am sure you know this, but the higher the pH number, the less acidic the food. 4.6 is the cross-over point between high acid and low acid foods. Tomatoes are usually around 4, and they do require added acidity. Pears, according to all the research I have done online and in the books I own, can fall very close to that line. Some recipes I have call for lemon juice and others don't. You may be perfectly fine to store your sauce, but if in doubt, I would consider freezing it or recanning it with the lemon juice. I tend to err on the side of caution when there is a question of safety involved. This link shows many of the pH levels for different foods if you are interested in checking it out for yourself. They are accurate when compared to canning sources I have here at home as well. I am sorry I cannot give you a more definitive answer. Two good sources you may want to ask would be your local cooperative extension agency or the Ball canning hotline. If you find out anything further, please let me know, and I will continue to try to find a better answer for you.