Two recipes for easy and healthy holiday desserts

by Amie Watson

It might seem counterintuitive, but come winter, some of the freshest fruit available might come in a can – whether you canned it yourself or not. Though pears store a long time in the fridge, once harvested in fall, their sugars spend the cold months turning to starch. Canned pears, however, maintain their juicy sweetness.

But eating canned fruit from the grocery store comes with its downsides. The carbon footprint is high, thanks to the cans’ weight and long travel times. There’s also the elevated sugar content, as many fruit are packed in heavy syrup or corn syrup, like those apple and cherry pie fillings that are quick fixes for last-minute desserts.

But what if you could can your own homemade pie filling and then just pour it from a jar into a crust and pop it in the oven whenever a craving hit? Imagine opening your own can of local pears whenever you wanted. And what if you were able to control the amount of sugar in each? These recipes let you do just that. Plus, you can adapt them to your tastes – think freshly grated cinnamon in the pie filling or star anise in the pears. The best part is that if you don’t feel like making a crust for the pie or baking the pears into a crumble, you can just eat them straight from the jar. Gluten free!

Apple pie in a jar

Apple Pie in a Jar 

Makes four 1L jars

Any type of apple will do, so look for local Honey Crisp, Gala, Paula Red, Fuji, Spartan, MacIntosh or Red Delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • 7 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 6 pounds apples  

Instructions:

1. Sterilize canning jars and rings by boiling them in a large canning pot of water for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and leave jars in water until needed.

2. In a large pot, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add water and whisk again.

3. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice to taste. It shouldn’t be overly sweet. The apples will add natural sugar.

4. Meanwhile, peel, core, and slice apples. Pack into hot canning jars, leaving ½-inch headspace.

5. Shake jars and knock against counter to stuff in more apple slices.

6. Add canning lids to hot water for 5 minutes (do not boil).

7. Fill jars with hot cinnamon syrup and remove air bubbles with a chopstick or other non-metallic, long, thin utensil.

8. Wipe lips of jars, put on softened lids and tighten metal rims to fingertip-tight.

9.  Process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

 

Canned pears

Canned Pears

The 1:3 ratio of sugar to water makes a light syrup. 1:2 will make a medium syrup and 2:3 will make a heavy syrup. So you’ll be saving yourself a lot of cavities by keeping it light! It’s also safe to replace the syrup with fruit juice or even plain water, though the pears in water might lose their colour and firmness more easily. A touch of sugar also brings out the flavour of the fruit, especially after the long boiling, which you need to make the pears shelf-stable. 

Makes four 500mL jars

Ingredients:
2 cups cane sugar

6 cups water

8 pears
Juice of 1 lemon
4 cinnamon sticks or small pieces of star anise

Instructions:
1. Sterilize canning jars and rings by boiling them in a large canning pot of water for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and leave jars in water until needed.
2. Slice the pears and sprinkle with lemon juice in a bowl to keep their colour.
3. Combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  
4. Add the sliced pears and stir gently for 2 minutes.
5. Add canning lids to hot water for 5 minutes (do not boil).
6. Pack pears into hot canning jars.
7. Pour hot syrup over pears, leaving ½-inch headspace.
8. Remove air bubbles with a chopstick or other non-metallic, long, thin utensil.
9. Wipe lips of jars, put on softened lids and tighten metal rims to fingertip-tight.
10. Process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

 

Amie Watson
Post By

Amie Watson

Amie is a heavyweight food writer and a lightweight television personality but a featherweight foodie. She loves writing recipes and restaurant reviews for her blog, Multiculturiosity and freelancing with enRoute, Menu International, Fine Dining Lovers, MAtv and Ricardo Media. She loves all things local, organic, gluten-free and dairy-free, but only if they’re delicious. Celery root? Well, it's growing on her.

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