Monday, November 24, 2008

Food for Thought...and the Winter

The gardening season is officially over for me this year, aside from some leaf-raking IF I have time and if I can find a few hours of sunshine and warmth to finish it. This week, however, is going to be busy with preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. The house, neglected for far too long, definitely needs a good cleaning, more groceries need to be purchased, and baking must begin on Wednesday if I'm going to have everything ready by Thursday noon. This weekend, though, I took some time for another chore that couldn't be put off. A friend of my husband's brought over two sacks of pears from his trees, and they were ripening so fast I knew we would never be able to eat them all fresh.

I've really never preserved pears before, so I didn't know what to do with them other than to can them. I canned eight pints and put a few more pints in the freezer as an experiment. I still have about half the pears left to put up, but I ran out of canning jars, and I'm not sure if pears freeze well, so I'm going to check out one container before I decide how to put up the rest.

I've never had the time to can much before, but my mother has always canned and frozen every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable. When I was younger, the fruits and vegetables we ate during the winter came from the cellar or the freezer in the garage, not the grocery store. Preserving any kind of food is a lot of work, but looking at the sealed jars I felt a certain sense of satisfaction. I realized that despite my disappointing vegetable garden I have managed to put up quite a bit of produce. On the shelves or in the freezer I have:
  • sliced strawberries (picked at a truck farm just up the road)
  • strawberry jam
  • green beans (from my garden--not many)
  • cherries (picked from the neighbor's)
  • apple slices (from my trees)
  • applesauce
  • unsweetened applesauce (for baking)
  • tomato juice (not as much as I would like, but at least there's some)
  • apple butter
  • pears

I certainly don't have enough to keep from making frequent trips to the grocery store, but it will help a little in cutting down my grocery bills. And these home-grown products are certainly the perfect example of "slow food," the movement to help our environment by eating more local produce. While my mother--and my grandmother before her--preserved food out of economic necessity, today preserving food is more of a way to avoid so much waste, to eat healthier, and to be more eco-conscious. This is a tradition that is worth preserving!


  1. Yummieee... I'd love to raid your shelves and freezer! Wish I were a spirit - would've surprised you at Thanksgiving! LOL. Good luck with the preparations and have a great time.

  2. Sounds delicious!

    You could try making Pear Wine or a Perry (sparking pear wine) from remainder.

    Or maybe bake a pear and almond tart or 2 to freeze?

  3. Dear Rose....I was so impressed when I saw the cans of pears lined took me back to Nanny's pantry.....I would walk in there as a small child and see pears, plums, apricots....all in preserving jars........I used to watch her beavering away.....i was not allowed to speak, she was far too busy......BUT there was something very special about that time......

    You are so right.....we must all try to waste less.....healthy eating is not only good for the body and mind but, I believe, the is good to try anyway......

    We do not celebrate thanksgiving....but may I wish you and your family a special time together and I am thankful to have you as a friend.......

  4. Dear Rose,

    It sounds like a open the pantry or freezer and see foods I grew, picked, canned or froze would be a good thing! Even if we can't have a veggie garden we can still put foods away...Thanks for the reminder Rose...BTW, that's another good thing...bloggers remind us of things we have forgotten~


  5. What a wonderful winter larder you have. My aunt used to preserve pears and they were delicious, always with a large slice of orange in the syrup. :) Having no children of her own and lots of time, she preserved many types of fruit, berries and vegetables, along with every sort of jam, jelly, and pickle you can imagine.

  6. You are so lucky. You cannot buy a ripe pear at a grocery store. They are hard as bricks and taste about the same.

    Enjoy you bounty!

  7. You can certainly keep your sweet tooth at bay this winter Rose. Just seeing your list makes me wish I did more of this. Food always tastes better when we can or freeze our own.

  8. I didn't grow up with the canning habit, but I used to freeze a lot of things when I had a big garden. It does make you feel "ready for winter", doesn't it? I do remember my grandmother serving pear butter that was similar to apple butter. I wonder if there is a recipe out there on the internet?

  9. Rose .. Yes ! .. if I were you there would be a great deal of satisfaction from doing that .. I feel guilty for not doing anything .. but it is a safer saner house because of it ? LOL

  10. Oh how wonderful you have all these things to eat over the winter. How nice all of it came from your area.

    I'm sorry I don't have any suggestions for your remaining pears. If you get tired of working with them maybe give some to a local shelter or foodbank.

  11. For never canning pears before yours look SO great! You have been busy, very busy and to think Thanksgiving is this week! Yikes! Have a happy one Rose.

  12. Do you have a food dehydrator? You could make fruit leather with the remaining pears. Personally, though, I prefer the canned ones. Did you add whole cloves and cinnamon for some spiciness? Thanks for taking me down that lane again to more fruitful times where memories are tastefully well-preserved...

  13. I thought two things when I saw your pears: 1) they look delicious but 2) how long did it take you to peel them all? The only "preserves" I ever put up are pestos (and I love my blender). I know you'll enjoy the fruits of your labor!

  14. Oh wonderful...I love canned pears, especially if they are homemade. Your jars of pears all lined up are a beautiful sight :)

  15. My grandmother survived her winters off frozen and canned items! I always thought it looked like too much work but I was just a kid then. I would sit in the kitchen and keep her company as she canned...

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving with your family!

  16. Oh they look so lovely! There is such a satisfaction in looking at it all afterwards!! When I make jam I always leave it out for a few days so I can admire it!!

    Just to be a bit nosey(!) How have you preserved the pears? Are they in syrup? I've never done it myself.

    (No need to answer anytime soon, I know you're busy!!)

  17. Chandra, Thank you! You're welcome to come for dinner on Thanksgiving--we'll have plenty of food!

    Zoe, Pear wine and the tart sound delicious! I might have to check into some recipes.

    Cheryl, Yes, this reminds me of my mother and grandmother, too. The cellar was always full of jars of all kinds of fruits and vegetables during the winter. As a girl, my job was to help snap green beans or something simple like that, not the canning itself. Thank you for the good wishes.

    Gail, It's not that much, but much more than I usually preserve. Having the time to do this makes all the difference:)

    Nancy, I've never heard of putting an orange slice in with the pears--I bet it was to keep them from discoloring. This brought back memories for me, too...I've never been much of a "preserver" before.

    Marnie, These pears didn't look so "pretty," but they sure were sweet!

  18. Years ago I cannned and froze everything. My neighbor kept us supplied with produce. I loved to go down in my basement and just stand and look at my jars all in a row. I hung dried garlic ropes and peppers...used a nice shelf paper to make it look good. My Grandma called it a "fruit cellar" Your jars look beautiful!

  19. Lisa, Yes, if I remember to eat fruit instead of cookies, I might actually lose a few pounds:)

    Joyce, I thought about the pear butter, but I have so much apple butter, I thought I'd do something different. I rarely can either; usually I freeze everything. I only can things that need a water bath process or nothing at all--no pressure cookers for me!

    Joy, I understand--years ago I was helping my mother-in-law can green beans, using a pressure cooker. One of the jars exploded and I wound up with second-degree burns on my arm. Never again! Only the easy, safe ways to can for me.

    Susie, That's a great idea to give them to the local foodbank. I think they may be too ripe now.

    Tina, I was pretty proud of how they turned out, and I sampled some leftovers so I know they taste good, too!

    W2W, No, I don't have a food dehydrator; that would have been helpful. I didn't think to add any spices--I might try that with the last few. Love the puns:)

  20. Cosmo, Yes, they did take a long time to prepare...but I gave Husband the job of peeling, and I cored them. When I was working with apples, I had an apple peeler that also cored the apples. Too bad it didn't work on pears:)

    Amy(Blossom), I sampled some of the leftovers--they were delicious!

    Skeeter, So did my mother and grandmothers. Yes, it's a lot of work...that's the advantage of being retired: I now have time to do some of these things when I want to.

  21. Hi Rose, I am so proud of you and envious too. Your pears are works of art. I had to laugh at your neglected house, that is exactly what mine it
    s too and it is getting a cleaning in prep for the big shingig at my house. Lots of cooking here and our own pickles to offer. Nothing as exquisite as your pears, yum.

  22. Suburbia, I left the jars out for all to admire for awhile, too. I'm imagining them with blue ribbons on them from the county fair:) I actually found the instructions for canning the pears on the internet, though I've canned different fruits and some vegetables before. They're cooked briefly in a light syrup--quite tasty!

    Balisha, "Fruit cellar"--now there's a term I'd forgotten! I think my grandmother used to call it that, too. It's so much easier just to go to the store and buy what you need, but I couldn't stand to waste the produce I had this year. And it does give a certain amount of satisfaction knowing you preserved these yourself.

    Frances, Thank you--not being artistic at all, I appreciate knowing I can create something a little "artsy." I thought when I retired my house would always be spotless; then I got obsessed with gardening...

  23. Rose, those pears look delicious! And so pretty and white-that's a sign you did a great job. I'll admit this side of you this year has been a little surprising. But I am so proud of all the work and effort that you put in to preserving the bounty. And for those who've never done it-it is work!

    The satisfaction from preserving fruits and veggies is worth more than a savings of money. It is an ego booster. Way to go!

  24. Your pears look delicious! My mom would make jam and relish. I never had the time to can, but I think it would really bring a sense of satisfaction.
    My great aunt is in her 80's and she still preserves pears and plums from her garden. Vegetables too!
    Enjoy - and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  25. Good for you Rose! We all need to practice more of the old ways, we are a generation of waste.

  26. Oh well done! Daughter is trying all sorts of bottling and preserving too. It must be lovely to have your own produce in the freezer/larder.

  27. Rose - those pears look yummy! And now I know what canning means - we call it bottling :)

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  28. Here's a suggestions next time you get more pears than you want to can: put them in an apothecary jar filled with brandy. My parents used to keep one on the counter & periodically add peaches & pears to it. After the fruit had fermented a bit, they'd put it on top of vanilla icecream. It was so good.

  29. Beckie, This "side of me" never had time to do these sorts of things before! It was very satisfying to see the "fruit" of my efforts.

    Wendy, I haven't done much canning in years, but I rather enjoyed it. I might try pickles next year!

    Racquel, We certainly are a generation of waste...and planned obsolence, like my appliances:)

    Liz, Thanks, and thanks for the reminder to visit your daughter again.

    VP, Thanks for the language info--perhaps it should more properly be called "jarring":)

    MMD, That does sound good!

  30. MMD, but of course, we Germans refer to this concoction as Rumtopf. Best to use some well-seasoned crockery (nothing with lead paint in it). This recipe is not recommended for Florida residents, though. Fruit flies play havoc with the process.

  31. Lovely post. I find canning to connecting - to others, to the quiet thoughts inside myself, to our sources of food. Thank you for sharing.


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