Monday, 4 October 2010

The Three Pears

Once upon a time, there were three pears; Mummy Pear, Daddy Pear and Baby Pear...

Mummy pear, Daddy pear and Baby pear
Regular followers of my blog will know that the emphasis of my gardening efforts is directed chiefly towards vegetables and not fruit. However, I do have a trio of Minarette fruit trees – one apple, one plum and one pear. These trees have never produced a big crop: the apple (Scrumptious) has done best. This year and last year it produced about 25 fruits each time. The others have never brought more than two fruits each to maturity in any given year, a fact which I attribute mainly to poor soil conditions. It is therefore with some pride that I declare the 2010 pear harvest to be a bumper crop! This year my Conference pear tree has produced the grand total of four-and-a-half pears! I say four-and-a-half because one of the fruit is really too small to count.

A whole family of pears...
Yes, I know there are only THREE-and-a-half pears in that picture, but that's because I have hedged my bets and left one pear on the tree to ripen a bit more! Here it is, still wrapped-up in its anti-bird netting...

The "other" pear
I would be the first to admit that I am not an expert on fruit growing, but I know that it is normal to pick pears under-ripe and ripen them off the tree. I don’t know why. Can anybody tell me? I have picked my pears at a stage when they are just beginning to be slightly less than rock-hard. If they behave anything like shop-bought pears, they should ripen in the warmth of our house in a week or ten days. Let’s hope they are good!

Eating pears.
Here’s an idea you might not have tried.

Pears on spiced toast with blue cheese.
Lightly toast some spiced fruit loaf (or a teacake).
Core and slice a pear (and peel it if you want; I wouldn’t, if I knew that it had come from my own garden) and arrange it on the toast.
Put a generous slice of robust blue cheese (maybe Saint Agur, or Roquefort) on top of the pear.
Place the whole assembly under a pre-heated grill for a couple of minutes, just until the cheese melts a bit.
Eat it as either a starter or a dessert.

Another way I like to eat pears is pickled. This way they are great with cold meats, especially ham and turkey, so be sure to make some before Christmas, won’t you.
Here's a recipe from Cordon Bleu Monthly -- a part-work that Jane bought way back in the 1970s, when she was just learning to cook. It has proved absolutely invaluable, and some of our favourite recipes are taken from it.

Pickled pears

NB: If you don't happen to have 8lbs of pears available, just scale-down the recipe!

8lb of 'cooking' or unripe pears
1 stick of cinnamon
3 - 4 cloves
2 pints white wine vinegar
3.5 lbs granulated sugar

Tie the two spices in a piece of muslin (a J-cloth would do) and add to the vinegar, in a saucepan, with the sugar. Bring to the boil and set aside.
Peel the pears and quarter and core them. If really small, leave whole.
Put pears into a saucepan, barely cover with cold water and simmer for about an hour.
Drain the pears and put them into the spiced vinegar syrup. Simmer slowly until they look clear (sort of "transparent") and are quite tender. This may take upto an hour, depending on the pears.
Remove the pears with a draining-spoon, retaining the syrup.
Pack the pears into jars.
Boil the syrup until thick.
Pour the syrup over the pears to cover completely, allow to cool a little, and seal.
Leave for one month before using.


  1. Your pears look fab, not sure what size they are but the pic makes them look quite sizable. Your fruit yield record is similar to mine; this may be the year for bumper fruit crops... I went from no apples to 1 or 2 apples, to this year a record of 9 apples. If you find out any good tips on fruit please put on your blog. I have a pear tree as well but no pears (an area I haven't had time to research really).

    By the way, I jointed 'Grow your own' from a link on your blog... not sure if you'll get some commission or something??

  2. Ooh make me jealous why dontchya? I can't wait till my pear starts fruiting!

  3. You're close to my old stomping grounds. Lived in Farnham before moving to California! Your pears look great, we have four different varieties planted here, but they were only planted this last spring, so it will be a while before we can try them with spiced toast and blue cheese! Welcome to Blotanical!

  4. Kelli, yes the pears are actually quite big -- apart from Baby pear of course. I reckon that the low yield may be due to the lack of sufficient pollinators -- see my blogpost from 30 Aug entitled "Hair-nets or Pear-nets".

  5. Farnham is a lovely town, with lots of character. They hold a Farmer's Market there once a month, which we often go to.


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