Monday, October 23, 2017

Pears, Pears, and more Pears

For anyone who has followed me here or on Facebook, you will know the excitement I had this Spring when I found my fruit trees were going to produce this year! My Orchard is nearly 7 years old, and I've yet to get much fruit from it. It absolutely was a fruit year all around. I had strawberries, apples, raspberries, plums, cherries, grapes, peaches, blackberries, and yes....for the first time on our farm....Pears! Some plants only produced a few bites while others gave me enough to sell at market, and even put up for winter.
In my Orchard, we have two different types of pear trees, and they both produced very well for the first year of fruit!  One of them is a Bartlett type, and the other is more of a Bosc.  The reason I say type is because I honestly don't remember what the names are.  I had a struggle getting started with my beautiful orchard and had to replace some trees along the way, forgetting some of the names!  Oops!  I'll come back and edit to let you know if I ever find that map I made all those years ago!

I've seen a few beautiful blooms in the Springs' past, but sadly never fruit. So when I saw fruit beginning to form this year, I was ecstatic! One of my trees (Bosc) was just loaded! I know that you are to pinch off fruit that is close together, but I just didn't have the heart to do it. And crazy enough I had some nice sized fruit at the end of the season. Ok, I had some pretty puny looking ones too, but they were shared with the chickens! It was a delightful treat for them to chase and fight over!  And being the silly farmwife that I am, I thoroughly enjoyed the free entertainment!

As far as pears go, you are supposed to pick them before they fully ripen. They can get gritty if left on the tree too long!  And if you want to put them up for winter, you'll want to catch them before they begin to fall, or before any frost hits!  To preserve them, just inspect and individually wrap in newspaper and store in a cool dry place like a cellar or basement. It's best to have them spread out on one layer. If conditions are correct, you will have fresh fruit for months. Some people even dig holes in the ground for winter food storage! I have a storm shelter that I use, however it is warmer than a cellar, so I can't store as long as most. I usually can my pears. This ensures that I get to have some for winter and they won't spoil!

You can choose to leave some fruit on the tree to ripen a bit more and be used fresh. These are the super sweet, and sticky-face dripping pears that we all love! I lay mine out on the kitchen counter to fully ripen and use as they begin to soften.  Mmmmm!  At this point they also make excellent sauce and juice. The sugar content is at it's peak!  That's if you can keep from eating them all!

Check out my pantry!  Look at all that wonderful pear sauce!  It's got the texture of applesauce, and can be substituted in recipes just the same!  As a low calorie tip, you can use it in place of oil when baking breads or making cookies!  But around here we chill it and eat it by the spoonful!  On the second shelf you see a beautiful golden substance, this is scrap juice!  You guessed it, I kept all of the cores and peels and turned them into delicious pear juice, only adding a minimal amount of sugar!  That's whats great about canning, and scratch cooking, you control the ingredients.  Maybe you'd rather add nutmeg and a splash of honey?

Another great way to preserve your pear harvest is to dehydrate!  These make for delicious snacks, I love to have them on hand for camping, but they're great to keep in the car for when you're out running around and don't want to be tempted by gas station treats!  Have you ever had a dried pear, they're literally like candy!  So sweet and chewy!  And if you have a dehydrator, just slice thin and dry until you've reached desired texture!  You can just as easily use your oven on a very low setting, or do what our ancestors did and hang the rings on a string!  

I've certainly enjoyed playing around with different ways to use these amazing farm fresh homegrown pears. Just look at that beautiful pie tart drizzled with homemade apple syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon, I think it deserves some ice cream....don't you?  Amon my many new recipe experiments, I had also planned to make pear honey this year, but life threw a kink at me and I wasn't able to get it done.  No worries, remember those pictures of golden pear scrap juice I made?  I plan to make jelly with some of it!  Well, that's if I can get to the jars before the kids do!

How do you like pears? Do you have a specific type of pear that you like better than another? Why?  Do you grow or pick your own from a local orchard?  Let me know!  Leave a comment, come visit me and let me know what all of you like to do with Pears!

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