Canning Pear-Cranberry Pie Filling

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When I was a kid I hated pears. The texture, the taste, even the look of a pear was something I absolutely hated.  Not until I was an adult did I finally discover the joy of pears and all the possibilities.

The turning point for me came one warm summer afternoon when Hubby and I were enjoying a barbecue at a friend’s house.  After the grill was through spouting smoke, our hostess brought out dessert.  The moment we saw it, Hubby exclaimed, “Oh good, apple pie my favorite!”  You see, Hubby loves pie and especially apple pie.

With a coy smile however, our hostess replied, “Not quite.”

We were intrigued.  It sure looked like apple pie.  The beautiful brown sugar topping with the perfect slices of apple peeking through — what else could it be.

Well, when I took my first bite, I immediately knew what it was — pear. Very smooth and mild with just a hint of spice.  A nice change from the traditional apple pie.

Although I love pear pie on its own, I really like it with a little zip in it and that’s where cranberries come in and thus this wonderful new pie filling for the pantry shelves.

Pear-Cranberry Pie Filling

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  • 11 lbs. Pears (mixed varieties)
  • 3-12 oz. Bags Cranberries
  • 4 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups Clear Jel
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 6 Cups Apple or Pear Juice
  • 12 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp. Nutmeg

Wash, peel, and core pears.  Slice pears 1/4 – 1/2 inch wide and soak in water containing lemon juice to prevent browning.

Boil water and blanch pears and cranberries for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil.  Drain but keep warm fruit in a covered bowl.

Combine Clear Jel in water and mix until smooth.  Add the Clear Jel slurry, sugar, spice, and apple or pear juice in a large stock pot.  Stir and cook on medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Fold in drained pears and cranberries and fill hot jars with mixture, leaving a 1-inch head space.  Remove air bubbles.  Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process immediately for 25 minutes at a full boil.

This recipe made 7 quarts of filling plus a pie to enjoy right away.

As with my apple pie filling, I use a variety of pears with varying textures and sweetness to really make this filling pop.  This pie filling is absolutely wonderful on its own, but to switch it up I might add a jar of apple pie filling on occasion.  This gives me even more dessert possibilities, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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Thanksgiving Pies – Tradition With A Twist

I have never understood why people stress so about having Thanksgiving dinner at their home.  For me, this is probably the easiest meal to make.  You buy a turkey, clean it, make some stuffing, stuff it, then put it in the oven for 5 to 8 hours depending on the size.  Done!

Sure there are side dishes to make, but peeling potatoes, cleaning the Brussel sprouts or other vegetable, making some rolls or bread, making a salad, and baking a few pies is pretty much like dinner every other day, so where is the hassle.  Granted there are typically more people eating at the table, but it takes only minutes to peel a few potatoes or make a bigger salad.

I love having Thanksgiving.  Admittedly, I am probably a bit spoiled here though, because much of the work that would typically have to be done on Thanksgiving morning is already done for me and waiting for me in the pantry.  When Grace was cleaning up the kitchen before our guests arrived, she was surprised at how many empty canning jars she had to load into the dishwasher.  This is where all that canning and preparation I do throughout the year really pays off.

First I used canned apple pie filling for the Apple-Cranberry-Currant Pie. Next it was canned pumpkin for the pumpkin pie.  Then four quart jars of homemade breadcrumbs for stuffing, several jars of pickled beets, two jars of homemade cranberry-plum sauce, and of course we had to break out a few jars of homemade fruit-juice-lemonade concentrates to mix with club soda for drinks.  Every time I started working on something else for the dinner, I found myself heading to the pantry to raid the shelves.  It was great!

The one thing I was not able to find in my pantry, YET, were the sweet potatoes.  I have them on my list of things to still can this year, along with white potatoes, but because of my decorating agenda for the holidays, it has not been checked off my never-ending To Do List.  Still, being able to cut down on how much time I spent in the kitchen this Thanksgiving was truly something to be thankful for.

Using some of the canned pumpkin from the pantry was a new experience this year.  I have frozen pumpkin puree for many years, but canning it was a new experience.  Slicing into it after Thanksgiving dinner, I have to admit I was a bit nervous.  Handing the first slice to my father, I asked him to tell me how it was.  He slowly cut off a tiny bite with his fork and sampled it.  After swishing it around in his mouth, as if he were at a wine tasting, dragging it out longer than my racing heart needed, he smiled and told me it was wonderful.  Hubby got the second slice and agreed with my father adding, “This is probably the best pumpkin pie you’ve ever made.”  Granted I think he says that with each pumpkin pie I make, but still, being able to maintain that standard was very important to me.

My pumpkin pie recipe is nothing special, but it is always a big hit, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 Quart Jar of Home-Canned Pumpkin (for me this turned out to be 16 oz. of puree)
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2/3 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • Pastry for Single-Crust Pie

Drain home-canned pumpkin and puree pulp till smooth in food processor.  Combine pumpkin, sugar, and spices with a whisk.  Add eggs, lighting beating to combine.  Add milks and mix well.

Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared pie crust and bake in 375 oven for 25 minutes.  Cover pie with foil after 25 minutes and bake another 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool completely before chilling.

This year, Grace helped with the pies and we opted not to drag out the mixer.  We mixed everything by hand and the pie turned out fine.  Sometimes it’s nice to get away from all the gadgets, although they certainly have their place in my kitchen.

The other pie we made was another traditional Thanksgiving favorite in our home — Apple.  This year, however, I decided to make it with a bit of a twist.  I added some cranberries, currents, and just a touch of brandy.  Definitely a keeper.

Apple-Cranberry-Currant Pie with Crumble Topping

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  • 1 Quart plus 1 Pint Apple Pie Filling
  • 1 Cup Fresh Cranberries
  • 1/4 Cup Brandy
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Currants
  • Pie Crust for Single-Crust Pie

Topping:

  • 2/3 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Butter

Combine brandy and currants and let sit for 1 hour until currants are plump.

In a large bowl combine pie filling cranberries currants and brandy.  Pour mixture into prepared pie crust.

To make topping, mix flour and brown sugar and cut in the butter using a pastry blender.  Sprinkle topping over pie.

Put pie on foil-lined cookie sheet and bake 55 to 65 minutes.

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Thanksgiving is a time when people stop and take the time to remember all the things they have to be thankful for. There are so many things everyday to be thankful for, unfortunately not everyone takes the time to remember this. Thankfully this holiday reminds those that maybe forget all the things they should be grateful for everyday to stop and take notice.

This year besides the things that I am grateful for everyday, I was especially thankful for the time spent with Grace in the kitchen making pies, the cut-down amount of time I needed to spend in the kitchen away from the family preparing dinner, and a pantry that made this all possible, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.