Sorry for the hiatus, everyone! This little thing known as “law school” crept up on me…but now that I’m back to more important things I figured I should get re-started with a bang! Or with the small but satisfying pop of a Ball jar vacuum-sealing…

I always thought canning was a really huge process, but I recently discovered that the sealing part can be taken care of mostly with boiling water. And that one can make many, many lovely preserves/conserves/jams/jellies/chutneys/etc. without ever touching (or, more importantly, finding) pectin. I already had a big lobster pot deep enough fill with water to cover pint jars, and I picked up a jar lifter…and was ready to go!

The recipe below is actually one-third of a recipe from the Gourmet Cookbook: I could not handle 6 pounds each of pears and sugar on my first go at canning. I kind of tasted some of the conserve that didn’t fit in my jars, but it was still so hot that I mostly just burned my tongue. What flavor did register around my cries of “Hot! Hot! Hot!” was gorgeously spicy and fruity. I’ll report back for real when I crack Jar #1 this Friday for a friend’s pancake breakfast party.

Pear-Ginger Conserves (Fills 3 pint jars)

2.5 lbs ripe pears, peeled and chopped
2 lbs sugar
Peel and juice of 1 lemon**
4 oz. crystallized ginger, chopped

To make conserve:
Put all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 10 minutes until it passes a “sheet test.” Be careful to watch the conserve so it doesn’t burn or caramelize.

**Use a peeler to remove the zest of the lemon in small pieces, leaving the bitter white pith. Then open and juice the lemon.

To seal:
Fill a large pot with water to 2 inches above the top of whatever jars you’re using. Bring to a boil. While the conserve is bubbling, boil the jars and lids for at least 5 minutes to sterilize. Remove and fill while still hot. Screw the lids on – not too tight – and place upright in the boiling water. The jars should not touch each other or the sides of the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes, then remove and wait for the top of the lid to pop in. And your jar is sealed for months! Voila!

Pear Ginger Conserve on Punk Domestics