“There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is good to eat.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Email alert from AZFRUITLADY: Utah pears.
I resisted the first week. And the second. I had great reasons. There were only three of us at home. If I bought boxes of fruit, then I had to do something with it—give it away, can it, eat it, put it in the refrigerator and remember to use it. And, since my bariatric surgery, it’s difficult to eat an entire pear without consequences, dumping—an insulin reaction to a hit of sugar. So the smart thing was to resist.
But when AZFRUITLADY emailed the third week, I thought about those pears, how they start out firm but get soft and sweet and delicious. And had our bishop not challenged us to live off our food storage for two weeks—no trips to the store—I might have safely made it through the season. But Utah fruit to us Arizonans, is like candy to a baby. And when I checked our food storage, wouldn’t you know there weren’t any pears.
New email by AZFRUITLADY: Last week for Utah pears.
It was psychological warfare. “Last week” meant there would be NO MORE until next year. Panic set in. I tried to resist. I don’t need pears. I can buy canned fruit at the store. But there would be no more. This was the LAST WEEK. The very last week. I emailed AZFRUITLADY. I’ll take a box of pears.
What was I thinking?
They were Bartletts, thirty-eight pounds of tender, green-skinned fruit just turning yellow, freckled with pear spots, incredibly sweet and delicious. From a cobwebbed corner of my brain, I remembered that once upon a time, I knew how to dehydrate fruit. And, after a Google search, learned that bottling pears wasn’t so hard, either, but they required processing in a water bath.
We have a glass cooktop. Heavy pots of water leave scratches which had been my excuse for not canning in the past. But, back to Google where on the Ball homepage, I found an electric water bath with the added bonus of a spigot to drain the water so you don’t have to lift the heavy, water-filled canner from the stove to the sink.
While I waited for the new water bath to be delivered, I dehydrated pears. It was easy, and they were so delicious I was prompted to write about it. I washed them, sliced them in quarter inch pieces lengthwise, dipped them in a dilute water, honey and lemon juice mixture then arranged them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven set to 160 degrees. After about twelve hours they were done, no longer sticky but pliable. I didn’t peel them. I didn’t core them.
When the new water bath arrived, it was a dream to use. It came with a large aluminum pan that fit into a base where the heating element was. I filled it as directed with hot water then put on the lid while it came to a full boil. Meanwhile, I peeled the pears, cooked them for five minutes in a boiling, light syrup, filled the quart bottles, then added the syrup. As the canner was up to temperature I put in the jars. In only a few minutes, the water was boiling again as opposed to the stove top water bath that seemed to take forever to return to temperature. I processed them for fifteen minutes.
The electric water bath was so easy to use, I’m thinking about next year. About salsa. About canned apricots and jam in the spring from our two trees. About pears and peaches. About food storage shelves in our basement lined with jars of Utah fruit.
The Mason quart jars filled with pears were beautiful. Sometimes, we do things that are so satisfying and feel-good we have a few minutes of feeling good about ourselves. I was challenged by the pears. I was motivated by the bishop to work on food storage. I’m taking a few minutes here to enjoy mission accomplished.