Canning fruits and vegetables is a great way to preserve long after the season is over, to make use of abundance, and to enjoy in a new and different way, other than baked or raw. We took a bountiful harvest of Seckel Pears and canned them (well, jarred them) to enjoy far into the season.
Their small size make Seckel Pears great for canning. And, bonus: when you’ve eaten the pears, you still have a lovely spiced honey syrup that you can use to drizzle over anything and everything— pancakes, tea, and yogurt, just to name a few suggestions.
It’s a bit labor-intensive, so you’ll want to set aside a weekend afternoon. Also, be sure to read the entire recipe and make sure that you have all of your equipment and ingredients ready to go before beginning, to ensure a smooth process.
8 or so seckel pears (enough to fill 2 quart jars), approximately 2 lbs, halved, with seeds removed
4 cups filtered water
1 1/2 cups honey
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole star anise
6 cardamom pods
2 quart size mason canning jars with 2-piece lids
Scrub your pears very well in hot water; set them aside to dry. Half and remove seeds.
Sterilize the jars: You will need a large, deep stockpot (or a canning pot) to sterilize and process the jars in. If you don’t have a rack that fits in the bottom of the pot, you can simply put a clean, folded kitchen towel or washcloth in the bottom so that the jars won’t come into direct contact with the bottom of the pot. Once you do this, fill up the pot with water, then submerge the jars (without the bands/lids) in the pot. They should be completely covered. Turn the heat to high and bring the water in the pot to a boil. It will need to be at a full boil for at least 10 minutes for the jars to be sterilized. While the jars are sterilizing, wash the lids and bands in warm soapy water, then place the lids (not the bands) in a heat proof bowl. Set the bands on a clean kitchen towel to air dry. Once the jars have been sterilized, turn the heat down to medium and keep them warm in the pot until you need them.
Make the honey syrup: In a saucepan or pot, combine the water and honey and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Fill the jars:
When the jars are sterilized and the honey syrup is ready, remove both jars from the pot with a jar lifter and set them right side up on a kitchen towel. Pour a bit of the warm water from your pot over the reserved lids that you set aside in a heat proof bowl (this softens the seals). Fill each jar with the pears (I got 4 to fit in each), then put half of the spices in each jar. Carefully pour the honey syrup into the jars over the pears, making sure to leave a 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar (there should be a 1/2 inch between the top of the honey syrup and the top of the jar). Gently shake the jars to remove any excess air bubbles, being careful not to burn yourself. If shaking doesn’t work, you can use a chopstick or a butter knife to gently stir the contents and remove the air bubbles. Once you have done this, remove the lids from the water, shake off the excess, and place each onto a jar. Screw the bands on so that they are just finger tight.
Process the jars: Carefully place the jars back into your canning pot and make sure they are completely submerged in the water, with at least one inch of water covering them. Turn the heat back up to high and bring the water to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, you will need to process the jars in the boiling water for 25 minutes. Once the 25 minutes have passed, turn off the heat and carefully remove the jars. Place them onto a kitchen towel on the counter and leave them undisturbed as they cool. After one hour, check to make sure the jars have sealed. They have a round “button” in the center that should be depressed. If they have not sealed after one hour, refrigerate them immediately and consume within a month. If they have sealed, store them in a cool, dark place up to one year.
Makes 2 quarts.