I don’t easily get intimidated in the kitchen. A multi-layered cake made up of 4 different components? No problem. Roasting a turkey for the fist time, with 20-plus guests coming over? Bring it on. I love a challenge. But canning is something that I’ve pushed off trying for a long time, even though it was something that I was interested in. It just seemed like so much work. And then, of course, there was always the thought in the back of my head that I’m going to kill my family by serving them improperly canned food.
After reading several books about canning, I decided it was time for me to give it a try. And you know what? It really wasn’t that scary. I made this delicious vanilla-pear jam. So many jams are made with spring and summer produce, but this is a great was to use produce that’s in season during the colder months. You all know how much I adore vanilla, and this jam shows it off perfectly.
If you don’t want to can this (which I totally understand!), don’t let that keep you from making it! It’ll keep for about a month in the fridge. If you won’t use it that quickly, you can give some away or just make a half recipe. It’s wonderful on a sandwich with almond butter, and I also used about a jar of it in a batch of fruit bars (using THIS recipe).
Make sure that the lids you use for canning are new—you can not reuse lids when canning!
The reason you remove the lids before storing is because in case the food wasn’t properly canned, and bacteria starts growing in it, the lid will pop off and you’ll know right away that you shouldn’t eat it. For that reason, it’s also best not to store jars in top of one another.
Golden Vanilla-Pear Jam
6 cups peeled, cored, and chopped pears
4 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
1 (1.75-ounce) package powdered pectin
1. Place a rack (I used the basket from THIS set, but a rounds cake cooling rack also works well) on the bottom of a large pot. Add your (lidless) canning jars, fill the pot with enough water to cover the jars by an inch, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes to sterilize, then remove from heat, drop in you jar lids, and cover the pot to keep everything nice and hot.
2. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot. combine 3 3/4 cups of the sugar, the lemon juice, and the vanilla beans. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Boil until the pears are very soft, about 12 to 15 minutes, mashing with a potato masher as the fruit softens.
3. Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with the pectin in a small bowl. Stir into the pear mixture, and let boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the vanilla bean pods, scrape out any remaining seeds into the jam, ans mix well.
4. Carefully remove the jars and lids from the hot water using canning tongs and a magnetic lid lifter, pouring the hot water from the jars back into the pot. Place onto a clean towel on your work surface.
5. Place the canning pot with the water over medium heat.
6. Dry the jars, and then immediately ladle the jam into the jars a wide-mouth funnel helps a lot!). Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth. Place a lid on a each jar, and add the rings to close. Close the jars with the tips off your fingers, so that they are tight enough, but not too tight to allow air to escape when you remove the jars from the canning pot.
7. When the water starts boiling, add the closed jars to the pot, adding more water if necessary to cover the jars by a few inches. Boil for 10 minutes.
8. Using canning tongs, remove the jars from the pot back to the dish towel to cool. As they cool, you’ll hear popping sounds as the jars seal. Once cooled, check the jars to make sure that they have sealed properly—the center of the lids should not pop back when you press on them. Remove the rings, and store in the pantry for up to a year. Once opened, refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Makes about 6 half-pint jars (I canned 4 of them, and put 2 in the fridge)