Monday, November 4, 2019

Canning Pears

There is an amazing man in our ward.  Brother Cox.  He is in his 90's and does not act his age!    He came to our home school group so the class I was mentoring could meet and interview someone who served in WWII.  He gardens, very successfully.  He brings his garden surplus to church every Sunday to share his bounty with others.  He has offered me specific items in bulk.  He even invited us over to pick AND can beans at his house, with the help of his lovely daughter.

About a month ago I received a call after 9 pm from brother Cox.  {He would give the energizer bunny a run for his money, for sure.}  Brother Cox invited me, along with a couple of other families, to pick pears. 

OK.  I've never loved pears.  I've never picked them.  And I have never canned them.  But OK.

The pear trees were supposed to be ornamental.  Nope.  The city planted several fruit bearing pear trees at the cemetery.   Brother Cox noticed all the fruit going to waste and asked the city if he could pick them.  He has been doing this for well over a decade.

We arrive on the agreed upon day.  There is Brother Cox, up a ladder, in a tree, picking pears!

The pears were delicious, but needed to sit to ripen.

I decided to can pear sauce.  I do not have a pressure caner and sauce seemed easiest.  My food strainer says no skinning or coring.  
My first attempt did NOT go well.
The strainer barely fits onto our very thick counter-top and slipped off easily, it leaked, it was very difficult to turn the handle to churn the pears, and NO sauce came out.  
I have canned a few things several times, so canning in and of itself is not new.  I have made applesauce only once and that was a few years ago and I did it as a family project with lots of helpers, including Eric.

So I inform Eric of my plight.  He asks if I have boiled the pears.  I responded rather indignantly and an emphatic "NO" escaped my lips.  Eric just stared.  Wait for it...... He thoroughly enjoyed watching my gears turn and the light bulb go off and then GASP!  I didn't cook the pears!  Maybe you can picture this hilarious akin to I love Lucy moment.  There was some laughter at my folly.

The second time was tedious at best.  It took a LONG time to boil the water, to quarter and add the pears, to empty the water set aside the pears, refill the water and beginning the boiling process again, and then, grind the pears into sauce.  (This is all wrong if you are unaware.)  I got sauce!  
I started with so many pears!  I piled as many as I could up on the counter and the pile looked the same after I filled the pots.  And there were still more pears waiting in bags and boxes.  The job proved to take much longer than I had anticipated.

The sauce was rather liquidy, and I didn't want to wait longer for it to simmer down, so I strained the sauce into two jars - 1 for the juice, and 2 for the sauce.  I thought I was so clever.....  Really it was just time consuming.  
Even my helpers doubted.

A friend told me that the sauce seems watery, but if you strain it the sauce could be too dry.  Argh.  So the latter batches were not strained.  If it is indeed dry, I have the liquid to add back to it.  If the sauce is fine, I have cider.

I learned the the difference between sauce, cider and juice; for me anyway.  Obviously I am NOT an expert.
Sauce - ground up COOKED fruit.
Cider - the juice of the ground up cooked fruit
Juice - is the water the fruit is cooked in.  I learned this on the very last batch.  Sigh.  It was very watered down.   But repeatedly using the same water cooking the pears would have yielded a flavorful drink.

cider, juice, sauce

I did not take as many pears as I could have that morning at the cemetery.  I did not want to overwhelm myself.  But I got a bit flustered anyway.  This project took an entire day, from shortly after breakfast until after bed time for the onions.  But at least I did it in one day.  One day of standing at the stove.  One day of everything I touched getting sticky.  One day of frustration and finding the way.  One day of disarray. 

 I seriously questioned whether it was worth canning or not.  

There were a couple of jars that did not seal properly.  I was SO sick of pears, I just put them in the frig.  

Well....  I learned a lot from this experience.

I learned:
that even when I think I know what I am doing, I might not.
that seemingly simple things can be complicated if you don't know what you are doing in the first place.
how to can pear sauce.  I am confident my next attempt will be much easier.
perseverance even when I'm not sure it is worth it.
that I LOVE pear sauce!  I will certainly be canning again next year!

I see the gospel and life in general in this experience for me.  
There are videos and blogs and other canning resources available.  I looked, but did not study or gain knowledge.
I jumped in without preparing myself.
I ask:
How often have I read the scriptures for the sake of obedience without ever gleaning anything from my reading?
How often have I acted impatiently without prayer or pondering or waiting for an answer.
And yet when I do this, how often has Christ been there to help me and show me a better way?  Every time! - if I am willing to follow Him.

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