This is one of Carson’s all-time favorite canned goods. Last year we didn’t make nearly enough, so this year Carson picked tons of pears and then left for weeks on a fire, ensuring that I’d become responsible for them. Have you ever noticed that pears don’t ripen politely? One day they’re hard and green and the next day, BANG, you better use them or lose them.
This recipe is really easy, as canning goes (which is always a worthy but time-consuming process). I’ve given basic instructions here, but if you’ve never canned before you should read up on it first. It’s not hard but there are a lot of steps!
The syrup is 1 cup honey for every 3 cups water. For 10 quarts of pears, I used 12 cups of water/4 cups of honey. Heat this on low in a big pot on the stove.
Meanwhile, pour 1/3 C brandy in each clean jar (make sure you’re using new lids!), plus 1/4 of a fresh, split vanilla bean. I add a few black peppercorns to about half the jars, just for variety.
Peel the pears- this is the worst part. I cut the very top off, peel to the bottom, cut the bottom, cut it in half, and do a little funky side cut to get the tiny core out. You’ll find the way that works best for you.
As you work on the pears, put the cut pieces into a large bowl of water with some lemon juice or citric acid (1 tsp is plenty). This will keep them from turning brown.
Once you have all your pears done, dump them into the jars and smoosh them down a bit. If you don’t, you’ll end up with tons of room in the jar, like the one on the right:
Pour the hot syrup over them, leaving 1/2 inch head space; wipe the rims of the jars, add the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes.
These are perfect straight from the jar or over vanilla ice cream. Added bonus: use the syrup to make a fun cocktail!