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

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