Pear sauce is exactly what it sounds like; apple sauce, but made with pears. One of the wonderful things about living in a place where there is an excellent growing climate is the surplus of delicious fresh food. We harvested a couple hundred pounds of pears from two pear trees whose owners only kept the trees for decoration. There was no way we could have eaten that many before they went bad, so hence the canning. They weren’t the most beautiful pears to look at, but they were delicious and pesticide free. The owners saw us as doing them a favor by picking the pears so that they wouldn’t have to deal with cleaning up the rotten fruit at the end of the season. We saw it as them doing us a favor by giving us their pears. It was a good trade.
If they’d been sprayed or handled by anyone else we probably would have washed them, but since they came fresh from the tree and were getting cooked anyway, we decided not to worry about it. The first thing was coring.
It doesn’t matter how (or really even if) you core because it’s all personal taste. However, I think the easiest way to core (and it also gives the opportunity to notice and remove any worms or other invaders) is to cut the pear just off center barely missing the core leaving a pear (with the core still intact) missing almost half and the almost half. Then repeat on all sides, until only the core is left. Really it doesn’t matter how you core as long as no seeds or stems end up in the sauce, although it wouldn’t be a big deal if they did. The pear flesh can then be placed into a steaming pot (basically a colander inside of a sauce pot, the pears could also be cooked down with some water in a sauce pot, but it takes longer and requires more stirring), and the cores can be taken to compost, fed to chickens, or whatever else seems good.
Once the colander is filled, it’s time to steam. This requires the colander to be placed into the sauce pot which should be filled with enough water to provide steam, but not enough to actually touch the pears more than minimally because it dilutes the flavor. It is very important to monitor the amount of water in the pot because dry boiling is very bad indeed for the pot and the safety of the kitchen. The pears are done when they are soft to the the touch. Use a fork, not fingers to test, using fingers is a bad idea (how would I possibly know that?). After the pears have been taken out, the bottom of the pot that was filled with water is now filled with pear juice. It is tasty and refreshing once cool.
The next part is the actual sauce making. I like this part, it’s fun and slightly calming process. At this point the pears became sauce by being squished through a colander. The colander does the double duty of removing the skins. The skins (shown in the lower right above) are distinctly un-apetizing, even the chickens were not interested. Its possible to grate the skins through the colander and integrate them into the sauce, but it gives the sauce a grainy texture and can be slightly bitter. We had a colander designed for this purpose but any colander would work, even just hands in a pinch would work fine too.
Canning requires some time, but is not too difficult. The pear sauce should be poured into the jars while hot (it can be heated on the stove top or in the oven), and then water bathed (with water covering the tops) for twenty minutes. Luckily, all of our jars sealed the first time.
It took us many batches to use all two hundred weight of pears. Luckily not all the pears came ripe at the exact same time. We didn’t add any spices. I think it’s delicious the way it is, but a little cinnamon or nutmeg added upon serving can be a nice touch. I have also discovered that pear sauce its really tasty when warm as well as cold.
“The old methods survive not just for practicality but for unsurpassed flavor.” – Back To Basics (Third Edition)