September 16, 2008

Willem's Pear

We have an artist friend who lives in Maine named Jonathan Eiten. You can see more of his amazing still life oil paintings by following this link. He's from Iowa and started studying art while he lived here. Their youngest son, Willem (the W is pronounced as a V) was totally crazy about pears when he was really little and this painting became unofficially known as "Willem's Pear" when family and friends talked about it. Willem would have quite a reaction whenever he went into his Dad's studio while this painting was underway! Now, every time I think of pears I think of Willem. I miss you little man, and your dandy big brother too, and your Mom and Dad of course!

I was thinking about pears a lot yesterday since it was canning day for the load of pears that Uncle J and Aunt P dropped off on Sunday night. Their pear and apple trees have had an unbelievable run this year, as have most fruit trees around this area. This first batch was canned with unsweetened apple juice, a cinnamon stick, and a couple of whole cloves. I like to buy canned fruit that's done in juice only, so we'll see if our home efforts will work out. It was tedious I have to admit, but we think it will be worth the effort.

Here's the dilemma with pear canning - you can "hot pack" them as is suggested by many, or you can "cold pack" them. Hot packing means that you heat them before you put them in the jars, which causes them to shrink down before they're packed in - therefore, they look better after the processing is done. But, they will also be overcooked for our taste. Cold packing produces a better texture for us but you get this floating business in the processed jars. They certainly look like they'll be tasty, but that floating business bugs me, though I do have to admit that after they sat overnight the floating effect had improved.

These are rustic, organic pears and therefore quite variable in size and shape. It can be a little tricky to know how many you need for the number of jars you want to can. The 8 pints that we did took about 12 pounds of pears and I'd say we have about 2o more pounds about to be ripe enough to use. The next round? Hmmm...pear butter? Or spiced pears that are made with a vinegar/sugar/spice mixture? I don't know yet. What do you think Willem?

Well, this is all then.


  1. Your friend's artworks are AMAZING!

  2. Aren't they though?!! We feel very blessed that God brought him and his family into our lives. His wife is an extremely talented professional violist, so they make quite a team - in many ways!