Pear perfection

Freshly_picked_homegrown_pears
October pear harvest. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The temperature has been dropping these past few days so I decided it was time to pick the pears before a frost spoils them. It’s been a good year for most of the orchard fruit in my garden, and although I only have 2 small pear trees of differing variety, both produced 7 or 8 fruit each. One tree is a Doyenne de Comice which grows against an old wall, espalier-style, and the other is a Concorde pear, more of an upright tree but still sheltered by a wall.

Most pears ripen off the tree but I find it a challenge knowing exactly when to pick them, some time between the wasps disappearing and the cold weather arriving. If you want to store your harvest, unlike apples, pears don’t require wrapping, just arrange them in a single layer, not touching, on a shelf or tray, in a cool, dry place. You will need to check them frequently, and once the fruit begins to soften at the stalk end, keep them at room temperature for 2 to 3 days to complete ripening.

Espalier_growing_Comice_pear
Comice pear tree growing against a wall. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
Still_life_homegrown_Comice_pears
Pear: Doyenne de Comice. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
Pear_tree_Concorde_variety
Small Concorde pear tree. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
Still_life_Concorde_pears
Pear: Concorde. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

5 recipe ideas for pears:

  • Peel and core firm but ripe pears, sprinkle with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar and bake along side a ham or pork joint for the last 30 minutes of cooking; baste occasionally to prevent them drying out.
  • Mash soft, ripe pear flesh into freshly prepared mashed potato along with salty, sharp blue cheese – delicious served with roast chicken or ham.
  • Blend chopped pear with fresh blueberries, unsweetened apple (or pear) juice and plain soy or coconut yogurt for a creamy smoothie.
  • For a decadent sandwich, toast gluten-free bread and fill with freshly sliced pear, a few marshmallows and chocolate chips. Spread butter or margarine on the outside of the toast and press the sandwich into a preheated hot griddle pan for a couple of minutes on each side – or pop in a sandwich toaster if you have one – to heat through and melt the chocolate.
  • Halve a perfectly ripe pear and scoop out the core. Brush with lemon juice and fill the centre with grated marzipan. Flash under a hot grill for a few seconds to melt the marzipan and serve immediately, scattered with toasted almonds and chocolate sauce – my favourite!

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