Each year our compost gets better and better because as we do more canning, the fruit and vegetable scraps are dumped in the compost. These scraps break down into dark rich soil. While Mom was visiting recently, she offhandedly mentioned that when she was growing up they would cook the peels down to get the juice out of them. I grew up around canning, but apparently missed a lot. In part, I took Mom to mean that we were not well off enough to throw out perfectly good food. So, I gave it a try.

Since we were making pear jam and pear honey, I decided to cook down the peels and the cores and give a try to Pauper Pear Jelly. Here is the recipe:

Put the scraps from pealing pears in a large pot. Add two cups of water, bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat back, cover and let it simmer. Once the fruit pulp has cooked down, pour the liquid off, let cool and strain. Repeat the strain or filter the liquid until it has the clarity you want. For a jelly, it should be clear. For jam, preservative, etc., it can have more pulp. Discard the cooked down pulp (that is, everything left over) into the compost.

For the jelly:

5 cups juice
7 cups sugar
2 pouches Certo pectin

In another pot (large enough to hold 11 cups or more), pour in juice and bring to a rolling boil. You can add water if you are short on juice. I prefer to add apple juice (which naturally contains pectin or white grape juice which is naturally sweet).

Add sugar one cup at the time and stir until a rolling boil returns. Repeat until all the sugar is added.

At this point, turn the heat back to a simmer and skim any foam or white film that rises to the top. Some people add a little butter to stop the foaming. I prefer not to do this as I am uncertain of the impact it has on shelf life. Also, I want my ingredient list as short as possible.

Return to a rolling boil and add the pectin. Bring back to a rolling boil and let the boil roll for at least one minute. Turn off heat and skim the foam off again.

Ladle quickly into prepared jars and follow canning instructions.

Wait 24 hours, bake some buttered biscuits and heap some Pauper Pear Jelly on the biscuit. Enjoy!

Note: You may be tempted to cut back on the pectin because you are dealing with pears. Don’t. Since we are effectively steaming the pear juice out of the peal and core, the juice is weaker.