I love the texture and color of these beautiful honey-colored preserves. They are mouth-watering on fresh homemade biscuits or toast.
It is important to select the right kind of old-fashioned pear to obtain the best qualities for preserve-making. You should not use the grocery-store varieties that have been developed for eating out-of-hand. If you are lucky enough to have a relative with a pear tree, they will probably have plenty ready to pick in early fall. If not, you might find them at a Farmer’s Market. The pears should have yellow-green to brown peels. They should be firm and will not ‘give’ to pressure as ripe Bartlett pears do. The pear should be very crisp, mildly sweet and pleasant to eat, not mushy. 8 lbs. pears would be just right for this recipe; about the amount that fills a grocery bag.
Peel, core and slice the pears into salt water. Dip them out of the water and layer them with about 4 lb. of sugar into an 8 quart pot and let them sit overnight. This is approximately a 1:2 ratio of sugar to pears. (1 lb. sliced pears is about 4 cups; 1 lb. sugar is about 2 1/4 cups). The next morning, all sugar will be dissolved and there will be almost enough liquid in the pot to cover the pears. Stir them occasionally over medium-low heat until they come to a boil (about 30 minutes). Keep on medium-low heat at a low boil for about 3 1/2 hours, stirring from time to time, especially toward the end. When they turn translucent and amber-colored, and the syrup is thickened to a honey consistency, they are ready.
Ladle the preserves through a wide-mouth funnel into jars while still very hot, wiping the rims and sealing with new lids. Allow to seal from the natural heat, but if any jars do not seal, refrigerate and use within a couple months.
8 lbs. pears yields about ten 8-oz. jars.