Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Day of Pears

That is what it feels like, any way.  Back in September, I picked my pear tree when they started falling off more than one or two in a several day period.  With pears, you don't wait until they are ripe-ready-to-eat to pick them, because by then you can not possibly put them in a basket or anything that stacks them on top of each other.  They are just too delicate, too easily bruised.  And they don't keep at that point.

Instead, you pick them when they are still hard, but starting to turn yellow, and more than a few have fallen off the tree.  At that stage you can still layer them in bags or baskets, and put them into cold storage to gradually come to a ripe state.

So, the Beer Fridge has been pretty full of pears for almost two weeks now.  DH has not been too thrilled with having to wade through pears to reach his beer.  I've been hearing lots of muttered comments about it being a beer fridge, not a pear fridge.

Today, with the farmers market no longer being in session, I found myself with a Thursday that was totally open. Well, open until about 6:30 p.m., as choir practice has begun again at church and will be Thursday nights from now until about May.  But not having anything scheduled from 8 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. gave me a whole lot of time to work on projects.  Ten and a half hours.  What could I knock off my to-do list with ten and a half hours?

I decided that today would be the day for putting up pears.  I began with my first ever batch of pear jam.

I have vague memories of eating pb & j sandwiches on a summer afternoon in the neighbor's backyard in the metro Detroit area when I was about seven or maybe eight years old.  This neighbor lived across the street from us, and like us, had a corner lot.  Not only did she have a corner lot, she had a double lot, and several pear trees.  Pear trees that she harvested and canned, and made jam out of.  I had never heard of pear jam before, until she served me a pb & j sandwich made with her very own homemade pear jam.  It was pretty good.  Unfortunately, it was the last time I ate pear jam until 2012, when DD2 saw some for sale at the farmers market and begged me to buy her a jar to try.  You just don't see pear jam on too many grocery store shelves.

So, this morning, I went down to the basement and pulled a bag of pears from the Beer Fridge.  I looked up a recipe for pear jam, weighed out the amount of pears I needed (4 pounds), and got to work.

Once the pear jam was done, I turned my attention to making a batch of pear sauce.  Another bag of pears out of the Beer Fridge.  More cutting and peeling and cooking down.  If you've never tried pear sauce, you should.  It's very good.  It's also very easy to make.  Just like applesauce, only using pears.

After the pear sauce, came the main event: canned pears.

This marathon day of canning used up all my pears.

Yesterday I had pulled out about two pounds worth of larger ones and made those into last night's dessert:  Brown Sugar Pear Tart.  This is all that was left this morning:

The recipe comes from Betty Crocker's 40th Anniversary Cookbook, my go-to book for the majority of my best recipes (I really recommend getting your hands on a copy).

With all those pears, why didn't I save some out for eating just as pears?  Truth be told, none of us at this little place here is very fond of fresh pears.  Not for eating the way you'd eat an apple, or a peach.  We like ours cooked.  But at least we like them, and we eat them.  More variety in our diet than a lot of other people have.

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