Friday, October 28, 2011


In the first week of October, a friend forwarded an e-mail to me with a photo attached of a pear tree about to break under its own weight.  I made arrangements and arrived at the warehouse space near Jack London Square to investigate - the pears were different from other pears I have seen - dark brown on the outside, like a sunburn that scratches off, to a light green underneath.  The pears were hard and either under-ripe or just not dessert pears - but there were a lot of them so I set to work harvesting.

I poached two dozen of them the next day, and set rest out on trays in single layers to ripen - and a week later, still not ripe, I did some research and found an interesting article on Kieffer Pears.

I think that the tree is possibly a Kieffer Pear - not so great for eating raw, but excellent for canning. The pears are usually ripe in October, just as hard as they were back in July, and the trees often grow so tall that most people can't pick all the fruit easily.

However - the pears lack the sort of rusty stipple - but look more like Passe Crassane in the picture here:

An interesting tip I picked up from these articles is that you should not store any of the pears too close to tomatoes or other fruit while you're letting them ripen - the esters will cause the softer fruits to speed up too much and get moldy (I realized this with some tomatoes that were on the table with the pears!).

After about three weeks of ripening indoors - some of the pears turned into little squishy spore bombs, so I decided it was time.  I decided to do a batch of canned pears in light syrup with vanilla and a batch of pickled pears (apple cider vinegar & spices).  I still have 3 trays of pears with blemishes and am going to make some pear chutney - and then maybe I'll try my hand at chow-chow since I have some green tomatoes!

Canned Pears
  • 4 quarts & 1 pint canned pears, plain
  • 8 qts & 3 pints canned pears, with vanilla
  • 1 qt & 9 pints pickled pears

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Goodbye, Garden!

Goodbye, garden!  We just didn't get warm enough and you were not the most disappointing garden - last year was pretty bad.  At least I got a few more tomatoes than last year but I can't believe that even the zucchini weren't even half as productive compared to last year.

Time to dump Kassenhoff and get on the ball with starting my own tomatoes in January since their tomato plants never seem to thrive or produce.

After it's done raining, I'm pulling up the sorrel and useless feral arugula (with teeny leaves) and planting some cauliflower, broccoli, mustard, radishes, daikon and stuff... probably too late to sow seeds directly into the ground with this early rain.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Fall Tomatoes

After spending 4 hours at Mariquita's farms in Gilroy, exhausted from picking 160 lbs of tomatoes - I wasn't sure I'd have energy for much else. It took nearly a full week for me to process two big batches of marinara and one big batch of pottsville relish!

The part that seems to take the most time is the same regardless of equipment - the foodmill. I use the food mill attachment on my Kitchen Aid, but I am pretty sure it took a lot longer using a chinois. I have to stop and take it apart to get all the skins out - but the chinois was a lot more physical labor.

Since I often cook red wine into my pasta sauce, I decided to put it in the sauce while I was cooking it down. I made sure to add lemon juice to each quart this year and processed everything nice and hot for a good 45 minutes.

Tomato sauce
  • 27 qts
Pottsville relish
  • ~2 gallons (forgot to count jars!)
Tomato juice
  • 4 qts, frozen