Friday, September 9, 2016

Honey Stewed Asian Pear Preserves

There is a nip in the air these days that is a reminder to put away some of the summer's produce for colder days. Camas Swale Farm has had some beautiful Asian pears, which inspired me to share this canning project from last fall. We've been enjoying these honey stewed Asian Pears all year long, drizzled over waffles and pancakes, and we're just about ready for a new batch.

For a recipe for preserving Asian pears I turned to Linda Ziedrich's The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves recommended by a trusted authority.

The recipe included quite a bit of lemon juice, because Asian pears are not very acidic, but the honey tempers the lemons'  sourness. The instructions worked beautifully, except that I ended up with 3 extra pints of quartered pears which required an additional half recipe of stewing liquid.

Diedrich suggests adding anise seeds, coriander seeds, or fresh ginger slices to the jars. I tried the fresh ginger. I liked it, but I thought it overpowered the pears a little and I think I will leave it out the next time.

Once all the pear peeling is complete, the actual preserving just involves a quick 5 minute stewing in the honey syrup without any of the anxiety about jams jelling, making this a great recipe for a beginning canner. And once you've processed your cans of stewed pears, you can enjoy your handiwork all winter long.

Linda Diedrich's Asian pears stewed in honey
makes about 6 pints

8.5 lb Asian pears (for me, this was 16 pears, which filled 9 pint jars when cut into quarters, requiring another half recipe of the stewing liquid)

1 1/4 cups (420 g) honey
3 1/4 cup water
grated zest of one lemon
1/2 cup (118 g) lemon juice (I used about 6 small lemons)
3/4 teaspoon anise seeds or coriander seeds or 6 slices of ginger (optional)

1. Peel and core the Asian pears, slice them in quarters. 

2. In a preserving pan, combine the honey, water, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring a bit to dissolve the honey.

3. Immediately drop the pear quarters into the hot syrup. Simmer the fruit for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam.

4. While the fruit simmers, divide the spices, if using them, among sterilized quart or pint mason jars.

5. After the fruit has simmer for 5 minutes, remove it from the syrup with a slotted spoon and add it to the jars. Pour the hot syrup over the fruit, leaving 1/2 inc headspace in each jar. Add lids and rings, and process the jars in a boiling-water bath— pints for 20 minutes, quarts for 25 minutes.

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