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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Home Canned Pears

I was elated to discover three peach trees and a pear tree on our property when we bought our new house in September 2011.  I did a bit of research on caring for the trees then anxiously awaited the following spring.  Unfortunately, March of 2012 saw an unseasonable two weeks of summer-like weather with temperatures in the 80's (F).  This unseasonably hot weather caused the premature blooming of fruit trees in our area that immediately succumbed to the sudden hard frost followed by a cold, rainy remaining spring.  We ended up losing two of the peach trees, one which we suspected was close to being dead when we moved in.  The remaining peach tree and pear tree gave a yield of a couple of shopping bags worth of fruit, if that. 
our pear tree laden with pearsThis spring was cold to the point we were still wearing winter jackets a couple of days before leaving for our vacation home in Florida in May.  I figured it would be another year of low yield, small fruit.  Wrong!  The peach and pear trees flourished.

The peach tree was so overladen with fruit the branches bent to the ground!  The fruit was numerous but small and quite tasty.  The pear tree was also laden but the fruit was quite large.  Clearly we need to do some heavy pruning next spring.  I am beyond excited!  We are in the process of completely renovating our backyard.  The end result will see the majority of the backyard under decking leaving me just enough room for two 10' long square foot gardens for a total of 80 square feet growing space.  The peach and pear trees will be incorporated into the deck plans.  So, the spring of 2014 will see the start of utilizing a lot of small space gardening skills I've developed and mastered over the years.

home canned pears
We ended up with almost three bushels (about 150 lb) of pears which is really a nice yield for our first real pear harvest.  I expect the yield to be lower in 2014 as a result of the pruning but it should still be good, weather permitting.  Our pears are organically grown without the use of any pesticides.  Aside of the frost, the only problem we have had is the ripe pears attracting yellow jackets.  Since the pear tree is close to the pool, we were extra careful to clean-up any wind blown fruit.  This is good gardening practice anyway to deter pests and disease.  Other than that, our pear tree needs little in the way of maintenance but as this year showed, it has a big reward.

We gave a box of pears to a friend and another to a neighbour.  I canned pear quarters, two batches of 8 for a total of 16 - 500 ml jars.  The first batch was hot packed in a light syrup (pictured), the second raw packed in a light syrup (not pictured).  Both batches were processed in a boiling water bath canner.  The pears look lovely jarred up ready to be enjoyed during the winter months! 

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