Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mayree's Deep South Cakery with a Side of Life...


Vanilla Bean-Pear Jelly. Not pear jam, pear butter, NOR preserves. Jelly...

Ping!  There went the third jar of jelly sealing.  I've made vanilla bean-pear jelly this afternoon.  It's a departure from the normal processing of one of the South's favorite fresh fruits this time of year:  the pear.

 Most folks down here put up pear halves for classic pear salad, pears in light syrup for cobblers and pies, pear butter, and pear preserves.  They're all canning endeavors worthy of the praise they'll reap when the weather gets cold and late-summer days are long forgotten.  But me being me and all, I had to put a spin on normal and went looking for another use for pears.  Pear jelly.  I found several recipes, and along with the one for apples in the Sure-Jell box, kind of developed this one.  If you have this exact recipe and call it yours, rest assured it is a matter of happy coincidence.  You're going to have to kiss my grits share the claim 'cause I've LOOKED for it and couldn't find it anywhere except scrawled on the back of the bank envelope it was written on.

Pear juice?  Did I buy it?  Why no, Silly!  The pears drove up to the back porch last week via a cousin.  I cooked the pear juice from the peels and cores of a grocery bag full of pears.  I didn't weigh them.  I know I should have but winging it aka guesstimation, is one of those things this Southern gurl does best.  I saved the pear flesh for Pineapple Pear Spread (Preserves).

That's the compost bucket in the bottom left hand corner.  And that porcelain on steel pot was too small so I used the canning kettle instead.

Cover the pear peels and cores with water.  Don't ask.  I don't know how much water;  as much water as is necessary to cover the peels and cores by 'bout an inch.  Cooking really isn't rocket science.  If you use lots more water, you'll have lots more juice but it won't be as flavorful.

Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the cores have turned mostly translucent.

Pour off the pear juice.  I didn't put this through the Foley food mill.  Sometimes when seeds aren't involved, I will.  Mashing seeds often releases some kind of bitter something or another.  It'll make the nastiest jelly you've ever wasted sugar on.  Be careful with seeds.

I like jelly to be clear, free of any fruit particulates.  It takes clear juice to do that so I strain it through a double thickness of cheesecloth.  PPppfffft!  Not really.  Cheesecloth is too sophisticated for this kitchen.  I use a doubled over birdseye diaper -- never used on a baby's bottom and perfect for straining!

See... I had enough pears for THREE posts!  Isn't that exciting?  I'll be making Ms. Mona's pear honey and her recipe like Aunt Selma's for Pear Pineapple Spread.  

Put the diaper in another jug or deep dish of some sort and pour the juice in.
I know you're impressed  surprised with the action shot and that I've enough strength in the left hand to hold a gallon of juice while photographing with my right hand.  It's all those fry line maneuvers during WORK work.  I got skills!!  Who knew?

I like to squeeze every last drop of juice out of the diaper.  There wasn't much pulp in it, but it doesn't take much to cloud the jelly.  And it does look like a baby wore the diaper after all, doesn't it?

Finally.  Jelly time.  Split the beans and scrape the seed into the juice.
I made an "M!"  Go ahead and put the beans on in there too, adding the box of Sure-Jell and stirring until it's dissolved.  The vanilla seeds will be kind of clumpy here, but don't worry -- they'll soon cook apart.  Mama tells me I ought not add the pectin until it's in the pot but I've found, using these big measuring cups, that I can see that it's all dissolved and not have any pasty surprises on the bottom of the pot.

Make sure everything else is together:  jars sterilized, bands and lids ready, sugar (7 cups) measured out, canning funnel and everything all in one spot.

I like putting the jars in the microwave with hot water in them, keeping the microwave running on medium power.  It keeps the jars hot and sterilized and right where I need them.  OOOoo... Don't forget the clean damp cloth to wipe the rims of the jars with before sealing either!

Also, don't get so overzealous you forgot you moved the dog's food and water.

From this point on, proceed like any other jelly, bringing the juice with added pectin to a boil.

Add sugar.  Time for one minute after rolling boil has been reached.

Take out vanilla beans and skim foam from jelly, eating foam immediately on the softest white bread with every unhealthy additive imagined available at your local Piggly Wiggly.  There wasn't any foam this time!  How'd that happen??  There's a rule written somewhere stating that no batch of jelly is complete without eating a sampling of it on white sliced bread.  Quality control or something or another.  I ate jelly this evening.

Pour hot jelly into jars, wipe rims, put on lids and seal!  Tadadaaaaa!

That's eight, almost nine, half pints.  Or four and a half pints.  That jelly in the pint jar is mine.

So there you have it, Ms. Mary!  Vanilla Bean-Pear Jelly.  If you're a jelly maker you'll want to do this.  If you're NOT a jelly maker,  you'll want to do this.  It is thestar of the gift basket.  Unless crabapple jelly is your favorite.  And then you'd have to talk to Mama...

Those ingredients again for Vanilla Bean-Pear Jelly are:
5 cups of pear juice
7 cups of granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans
1 box of Sure-Jell.

Y'all saw it getting put together so carry the laptop to the kitchen and try it yourself.  You'll be glad you did!

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