Can Jam is challenge to can something monthly, chosen by a fellow blogger, and blog about it. Trying new things, seeing what is in season locally & getting to know a lot of cool people. We’ve done Citrus, Carrots, Alliums….and now introducing:
I love herbs! I had clarity on herbs right away. You know…until I didn’t. Too many directions! Savory? Sweet?
Herbs are generally considered the leafy part of a plant (as opposed to spices which are the seeds, bark, roots or fruit). Like spices, however, their culinary purpose is to add flavor. So many flavors to love. Cilantro! Parsley! Rosemary! Mint! Basil! Dill!
A quick spin around the garden and I found the following: mint, lavender, thyme, oregano, tarragon & rosemary. I didn’t want to pickle anything or make a relish of any kind. My mint is strictly for all-cocktails–all-the-time. Culinary lavender is too…too…soapy for me. Pickled mushrooms crossed my mind, as did herbed vinegar, various herbed jellies & syrups.
But then I remembered a Pear Cake recipe I saw over at Food in Jars (who, incidentally, was the blogger that chose herbs for this month’s challenge.) The cake used whole pears she had canned and it looked fabulous! The pears were plopped on top and just looked rustic and cute all at the same time. As a bonus, I haven’t canned whole fruit so the learning is in the fruit! The Pear Cake would be my way into the world of whole fruit canning. Plus another commenter had mentioned using canned fruit in Orangette’s Clafoutis. I love Orangette! I love clafoutis! Yum! And double Yum!
Rosemary & Pinot Poached Pears (with Vanilla & Ginger)
(Adapted From The Complete Book of Pickling by Jennifer MacKenzie)
- 7 cups water, divided
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 4 lbs. of small pears (organic)
- 1- 3″ sprig of rosemary (I used 2- 3-4″ sprigs) (from my garden)
- 1- 1″ piece of vanilla bean (split lengthwise) (I used a full vanilla bean that I “rescued” from my homemade vanilla extract jar…so it was a bit boozy)
- 3 cups sugar
- 1.5 cups Pinot Noir (or light fruity red wine)
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- I added 4 chunks of “un-crystallized” ginger (not sugar-coated).
- Prepare canner, jars & lids like you should.
- Combine 6 cups water + the lemon juice. Peel pears, cut in 1/2 lengthwise & core. Add to lemon water and set aside.
- In a large pot, combine rosemary, vanilla bean, sugar, wine vinegar & remaining water. Bring to a boil of medium heat, stirring often until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid is flavorful. Increase heat to medium and return to a boil.
- Drain pears and add them to the pot. Simmer, gently turning pears occasionally, for 5-15 minutes or until pears are tender when pierced with tip of a knife. Adjust heat as necessary to keep the liquid at a simmer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a bowl, cover and keep hot.
- Increase heat to high and boil liquid for about 10 minutes or until reduced by about 1/3 and syrupy. Skim off any foam. Reduce heat to low and keep liquid hot. Discard the rosemary, vanilla and ginger, if using.
- Using a slotted spon, pack pears into hot jars, rounded side down, leaving 1″ head space. Pour in hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Removed air bubbles and adjust head space as necessary by adding hot pickling liquid. Lid as you should.
- Process for 20 minutes in a your prepared hot water bath canner.
In case you are curious, I do think it bears a striking resemblance to my kombucha SCOBY. That is a bit more than mildly disturbing.
I then made a desperate call to the lovely Ladyfriend to please, please, please stop and get me some vanilla cream on her way home. I had some tasting to do! Yay for awesome Ladyfriends!
Verdict & Lessons from the Jam
- So very, very good. The packing syrup was so good I wanted to drink it. Yum, yum, yum! Good by themselves, fantastic on ice cream and I can’t wait to try it in the pear cake!
- I really, really, really need to figure out what is happening with my canning. I am not getting good seals for some reason. The lids are new and look good. I wipe the rim. I place lid carefully. And yet, I almost always have a jar that doesn’t seal. Really aggravating. I’m having a canning crisis.
- Wine makes everything fabulous.
- I need to figure out how to decent pictures of canned goods. It is tough!
- The pears, though unspecified, would have been even better had they been firm. I had meant to can a few days ago and didn’t but in that time the pears ripened significantly.
- I need to get better at packing the jars. This batch I was hesitant to press down because the pears were so ripe and I wanted whole pears, not pear sauce.