October 11, 2014
That’s the name I’ve given to this influx of pear-preserving, honeying and buttering that’s taken over my kitchen for the past three days.
Yes. Three days. About 50 pounds of pears. That would, I’m guessing, be about a bushel and a half of pears.
- Six pints and nine half-pints of pear preserves.
- Four pints and ten half-pints of pear honey.
- Five pints and nine half-pints of pear butter.
I don’t care if I never see another freaking pear.
But there is summertime preserved in those jars, yes, there is. Although my hand may be in a permanent cramp the size of a knife handle.
Sometime last week — days have become a blur — I met Child B at an interstate exit betwixt here and there to turn over Amazing Grandchild 3, he of the blond curls and sweet disposition. (As opposed to Amazing Grandchild 1, the hellion pixie, who will wind up ruling the world if she doesn’t destroy it first, and Amazing Grandchild 2, the Sherman tank with the ladykiller grin.) Being that said interstate exit was only about 30 miles from my childhood home, I decided to go on up, check in on my stepmother, and get some pears, as they were ripe.
Y’all may remember that, last year, I happened to be up home about the time pears got ripe, and found the pear tree had only two branches worth of pears. I brought enough home to make a small batch of pear preserves, which I hoarded through the winter, and vowed this year, I’d pick up more, and make more.
The pear tree, which has borne several tons of pears over its 40-plus year life span, was loaded, and the ground beneath it covered with pears. I commenced to picking up pears, discarding any that had bad spots, and still picking three big shopping bags full in 30 minutes.
And then I tried to pick one of ’em up.
Redistributed pears a bit, and struggled up the hill to my car to stash them, and then into the house to cool off and get a good drink of water before heading back west.
And then I got sick, and was out of commission for two days, and then it was the weekend, and then it was Monday and I started in on the pears.
Peeled, cored and sliced one big dutch oven full. Weighed the pears, weighed the appropriate amount of sugar to go with them, added a glug or two of lemon juice and a bit of salt, and put them on to commence to cook. Then I started peeling, coring and slicing on the second dutch-oven full.
By that time, I’d been standing in front of the sink or the stove for a LONG time. My feet hurt; my legs hurt; my hip hurt and my back hurt. That second Dutch-oven full took a lot longer than the first, as I took frequent breaks, but I finally got them set to cook as well, and then soon afterward, canned the first batch. The second batch got cooked, but left for the next day to can.
That took care of a bit less than half the pears. I decided to switch gears and go to pear honey, as I’d already canned more than three times what I did last year, and that should be enough pear preserves. Those pears got peeled, cored and quartered, but not sliced; they went through the grater blade in the FoPro and into a pot with honey, pineapple and lemon juice.
Never made pear honey before. We shall see. Thanks to faithful reader Kath the Cook for the recipe; I’ll ship your goodies out to you early this next week!
And I still had roughly half a bushel, maybe 20 pounds, of pears left. I seriously contemplated throwing them away, but I knew the spirit of my mother would scold me about starving orphans in China. So I got up Friday morning and decided to make pear butter. For the simple reason that you don’t peel and core the fruit; you just wash it, quarter it, and chunk it in a pot to cook.
Yeah. I can do that. Particularly since I’ve bought myself a food mill since last time I made apple butter this way, when I discovered I had to use my colander and a mixing bowl to push the fruit pulp through, to get out the stems, seeds and peel.
Amazing what a difference the right equipment makes. I made the pear butter in about a third the time it took to make the others. Then I set the pulp to cook down with its attendant sugar and spices, and proceeded to cook dinner and try to keep from knocking over the growing stack of jars on my kitchen counter.
So. There you have it. These, with peach butter and fig preserves and yet-to-be-made Branston pickle and bacon jam, will form the basis of my homemade Christmas gift-giving this year.
And if you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em want to try some, come on by. I believe I have plenty to spare. Because right now, I don’t much care if I never see another pear.