Dispatches From Whitcomb Street

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pear conserve and pear jelly

Pears aren’t over yet! 

When you can pears, you’re left with an enormous pile of cores, skins, and under- and overripe fruit. Don’t throw them away! As peach skins and pits become peach pit jelly, pear skins and cores become pear conserve and a phenomenally beautiful pear jelly.

I am a little obsessed with wasting as little as possible. It’s mostly that I’m kind of cheap, I think, and good produce is expensive. But there’s also a little something of wanting to conserve preciousness around the edges there—good fruit in Colorado comes dear, showing up for a few brief months in late summer, lovingly grown and brought in by farmers in the Western part of the state. Palisade peaches and pears—you want to make use of every last bit; it will be long, dreary months before they come again.

(You can, of course, use whole fruit for this if you want).

Tip: If you’re exhausted from canning a mess o’ something and don’t have the energy to deal with the aftermath the same day, freeze skins, peels, and juice until you have time to process them further.

Basic Zero-Waste Preserves

Any time you peel and pit or core fruit for canning, pile all the leavings (skins, pits/cores, and not-perfect fruit) in a stockpot. Discard anything manky, of course. Barely cover the fruit in the pot with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for thirty minutes or so, until most of the color has come out of the skins and the fruit is very soft.

Separate the juice and the fruit. For stone fruits, there isn’t enough flesh left to do anything with it—toss the strained peels without guilt. Pears, though, are another story—there’s a lot of delicious pear left in the cores and under the skin. So strain carefully through a layer of cloth to make conserve.

You don’t really want stems and seeds in your conserve, so pass the strained fruit through the small holes of a food mill or through a China cap and into a saucepan.

You should have a quantity of pear juice (I had red pears, hence the color) and some smoothish, powerfully pear-y puree. Measure your amounts of both.

For conserve 

4 cups puree yields approximately 6 half-pint jars

For conserve, measure one box of pectin and 3 cups of sugar for every 4 cups of pear puree. Scrape a vanilla bean or crush some cardamom seeds, if you like, and add to the pot, too.

Bring the pectin, spice, and pear to a boil in a large saucepan. When it has reached a boil that cannot be stirred down, add the sugar. Bring back to a rolling boil and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Fill hot jars to within 1/4” of the rim, wipe, seat lids and rings, and process in a BWB for 10 minutes.  

For jelly

4 cups juice yields approximately 4 half-pint jars

Measure one box of pectin and 3.5 cups of sugar for every 4 cups of pear juice. If you’d like to flavor your jelly—I used rosemary for one batch, and a vanilla bean for the other—bring the juice to a boil with the flavoring element in it. Turn off and let steep for fifteen minutes or so and then remove any solids.

Bring the juice back up to a boil with the pectin. When it has reach a rolling boil, add the sugar. Bring back to a rolling boil and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. 

Pull off the heat and skim any foam quickly.

 Fill hot jars to within 1/4” of the rim, wipe, seat lids and rings, and process in a BWB for 10 minutes. 

This recipe makes a not-tooth-itchingly-sweet jelly with a delicate set; I like it this way. For a firmer set, try a box of pectin and 3 cups of sugar for every 3 cups of pear juice.

Ideas for pear jam or jelly: Lavender and pear sound beautiful together. Or try apple pie spices—cinnamon and clove. Star anise. Rosemary and thyme. Lots of black pepper and fresh ginger!

  1. whitcombstreet posted this
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