By: Chef John Besh
Our Louisiana mayhaws don’t have much juice, and so it takes an awful lot of them to make jelly. (Crabapples are a good substitute.) If you squeeze the fruit juices through the jelly bag or cheese- cloth you’ll have better yield, but the juice will be cloudy. Either way it’ll taste great. Cooking pears are those hard varieties that are better cooked than raw.
NOTE: To sterilize the jars, bottles, and lids for preserves, place them on a rack in a large canning pot, fill with water to the tops of the jars and bring the water to a boil for 5 minutes. Then, use tongs to carefully remove the jars and bottles. Drain them upside down on a clean kitchen towel until ready to fill.
12 pounds mayhaws, halved
5 pounds cooking pears, quartered
5–6 cups sugar, approximately
Put the mayhaws, pears, and enough water to cover the fruit halfway into a large heavy-bottomed pot. Cook over moderate heat until the fruit is very soft, at least 30 minutes.
Transfer the cooked fruit to a jelly bag or a cheese- cloth-lined strainer suspended over a bowl. Allow the juice to drip through the cloth for a couple of hours (or overnight). Measure the juice and pour it back into the cleaned pot. For every cup of juice, add 1⁄2 cup sugar.
Bring the juice to a vigorous boil over high heat. Boil until the juice thickly coats the back of a spoon, 10–20 minutes.
Ladle the jelly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1⁄4 inch of headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars clean, then place sterilized lids on top and screw on the rings.
Use tongs to put the filled jars into a canning pot of boiling water over high heat. Make sure the water covers the jars by at least 2 inches. Boil for 5 minutes. Use tongs to carefully remove the jars from the water; place on a kitchen towel. Allow the jars to cool completely before you move them.