Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Harvest

Does food ever call to you? I'm not talking about chocolate cake when you are on a diet... I'm talking about 20 pounds of pears stacked in your kitchen that you KNOW you need to deal with.

All this work toward the first day of school has put lots of other things on hold. I am out of laundry detergent and yogurt, I need to make up a batch of both. I really need to bake some granola bars for snacks and muffins for breakfasts... I'm out of everything, so I'm feeling a little behind. The harvest is here too and it doesn't wait around until you are ready.
Last year we were blessed to glean a friend's apple orchard. We had more apples than we knew what to do with. I made a ton of gallon ziplock bags of apple pie filling for the freezer. I never make pies, we just don't eat a lot of deserts, so I ended up dumping them in to big pots of oatmeal in the mornings. Needless to say, it was sure a treat for my kids, they loved the warm, cinnamon-y apple oatmeal on the many cold mornings that we had.

So, since I have all of these pears, I decided to try it with the pears too.

Of course, you can actually make pies or crisps, it's really a great recipe. I am not sure how pies would turn out with the more watery pear but for my purposes, it doesn't matter.

You can try it too:

Apple pie (and now, pear!) filling:

18 cups baking apples, peeled and sliced (I didn't peel the pears)

1/2 cup of lemon juice

4 cups of brown sugar

1 cup of corn starch

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

8 cups of water

(5 quart sized Mason jars if you want to can this instead of freeze it)

In a large bowl mix the apples together with the lemon juice to keep them from browning. Set aside. In a large pot combing brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add water and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for two minutes. Add apples and return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 6-8 minutes. If you want to can this, have your jars and lids hot and ready, pack each with filling to 1/2 inch to the top, screw down lids and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Otherwise, if you are like me (read lazy) just let it cool, put it in five freezer bags and freeze.

The canned version is a very nice Christmas gift though, if you are the type that thinks ahead.

I also tried drying pears,they turned out really well. I tried peaches a little earlier in the summer and they don't seem to turn out. Of course, dried apples are great and if you have more vegetables than you know what to do with from the garden, you can always dry zucchini and tomatoes for winter soups. My dryer has been humming away in the corner of the pantry for a while. I have to just remember to rotate the trays so nothing gets too crispy.

I had another go at making fruit leather too. Last year the ones I made were too brittle. This year I read up on them and it seems that you need to add honey to them so they stay pliable after drying. Anyone have experience with a good recipe? This time I added cinnamon too.

We ended up making four gallons of pear sauce too. I had lots of helpers with all of this, as you can imagine.

All of this fruit everywhere has caused an influx of fruit flies. My next post will be how to make a no fail fruit fly catcher. A little piece of information every homemaker simply must have!

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