6 cups pear juice* (recipe below)
1 box pectin (we used Sure-Jell)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a few drops of Vanilla extract (or better yet, vanilla beans if you have them)
7 cups sugar*
Before you do anything, go buy the canning/jarring kit at Wal-Mart that’s in a green bag. It’s essential for lifting the jars and the lids out of hot water.
First, make your pear juice. If you’re not using your pears for anything, just cut pears up to fill a pot (no need to peel or core them) and fill with water about 1 inch short of the top of the pears. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, tasting for strength of flavor.
If you’re using pears for something else (like pear chips!! or chutney!! more to come soon…) you can still use the peels and the cores to make the juice. Just follow the directions above, keeping in mind you may need to cook a little longer to get that strong pear flavor.
You also need to prep your jars at this point. Wash each jar carefully with soap and water, then transfer the jars to a pot of boiling water and the lids to a small pot of warm water.
Now that you’ve got your pear juice, stir in the pectin, cinnamon and vanilla and bring it to a full rolling boil- basically, you want the boil to continue to bubble even when you stir it. Add the sugar, and bring it back to a rolling boil. Once it’s boiling, you want it to go for exactly one minute.
One by one, take the jars out of the boiling water and fill with the pear jelly. Put a lid on each one and then screw the lid on tightly. A lot of people at this point would tell you you’re done- just put them aside to cool and make sure you hear the lid pop down, sealing the jar. If there’s any give in the top of the lid, it’s not sealed, and you need to eat it soon rather than keeping it.
Some people, those who listen to the FDA and the companies that are required to listen to the FDA, recommend that at this point, you’re not done- you need to further “process” the jars to ensure there are no germs. So, they tell you to return the jars to boiling water for 5-10 minutes.
Though we frequently ignore the FDA (particularly when it comes to meat temperatures) we decided to follow their advice this time because we want to give some of these jars away as gifts. ”Merry Christmas, here’s your jelly!” is a lot better than “Merry Christmas! We got you some botulism!”