Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Babe in the Wood

Or, a nincompoop in a pear tree.
I have no idea what I'm doing, but all of a sudden I'm the owner of a treeful of pears.
Bartlett pears. The kind that get ready to harvest in July, and — oh, hell! This is July.
I haven't harvested a single one yet. Those bastards are simply jumping off the tree. Every night.
The first week it was like two or three. Then eight. We averaged 10 jumps a night for almost a week, but now... Yesterday there were 34.
You never see them fall off the tree in the daytime, but each morning we go out and collect the jumpers. Somebody call the Golden Gate Bridge suicide watch. Or put a net up.
Fortunately, the pears that jump are just pre-ripe. If they ripen on the tree, I'm told, they'll rot. These have been green and firm, and when they land on the ground, they don't even bruise.
Then, a few days later, they turn yellow and fragrant and juicy. And I put them in a plastic bag, in the fridge.
We've eaten some. They're really, really good. But I'm not a baker, and I'm timid about canning. I will get around to it, I will. (There are quite enough left on the tree for me to work my courage up to this.) It's just that we're on the brink of do-or-don't time here. Either save the bounty, or throw the slime into the yard-waste can.
I want to save it. I do.
Also, I will give away many, many baskets of pears to wary (grateful?) friends.
Today I attempted pear cider. I got pear slush. It's yummy, but thick and foamy. Not something you'd want to ferment, or turn into vinegar. More like... brown slush.
What a delicious problem.


Monkey Wrangler said...

I like pears. I do. Especially pear tarts. Or, I'm getting up the gumption for a pear cider that's got alcohol.....want to help this one along?. Anyway, write me and I'll trade you. It will be worth your while, I promise.

And I'm so sorry, but, nice post.

Dagny said...

Oooo. Pears. I would say try a pear cobbler since it's not really that complex but then again you don't really like sweets. And there are only so many salads one can have with pears.

tammy said...

I love Bartlett pears. When they get too nasty, I put them in crostatas: pie crust with sliced pears, some sugar, a bit of cardamom, edges folded over. Vanilla bean ice cream. Lordy. I want your tree.

cookiecrumb said...

Monkey Man: You will get your pears. Probly in one week, eh? Or if you're not into gatherin's, you could come alone, when you do your Novato trip Thursdays. Wait! Thursday is the day after tomorrow! Talk to me.

Dagny: Already Cranky is suggesting pear gazpacho. Cool.

Tammy: I'm so not worthy. I will blow this whole mitzvah. However!! Thank you for the endorsement of a dessert I'm planning this weekend with cardamom ice cream, pears, cookie crumbs and prosecco. (Stop reading this, Anita. It's a surprise.)

El said...

OH. my. GOTT. No time now, but I will give you Pear Butter recipe tomorrow. To can or not to can, you be the judge (of your refrigerated space. Back tomorrow.

Zoomie said...

How polite of the pears not to bruise themselves on the way down. My mother used to make an incredible dessert of cored pears filled with some kind of cream cheese (that lemon quark I tried at the Berkeley farmer's market would be good), then drizzled with dark chocolate syrup. OMG.

kudzu said...

Oh, Cookie. Pears. Don't be afraid of "canning" them: pear butter, translucent pear preserves suspended in a syrup, pear chutney! There's something elemental about the texture of pears, all sort of sandy and crisp at the same time. I love fresh pears with pork, especially, and some of the best gelato I ever had was made from summer pears (in Cortona -- before Frances Mayes) with slices of the fruit fanned out atop the tray of cold sweet stuff. Go for it! (And you're lucky your pears are un-pecked by jays or mockingbirds there in Marinwood.)

dancingmorganmouse said...

Poach them in red wine with a vanilla pod and cinnamon stick - then eat them with real custard or plain vanilla icecream - mmmmm.

katiez said...

I have several pear trees and they are just starting as well.
If I get any ambition at all I'll make pear-ginger preserves. I did 2 years ago and love it.
My trees have been trained to produce only every other year...stupid humans who did this to them....

Beccy said...

I love pears, poaching in red wine is delicious.

If I lived close to you I'd love to be a grateful friend!

Liz said...


I forgot to tell you about the part where we squeezed the pear slush through cheesecloth. :)

El said...

Dang, the recipe is longer than I thought. It's Roasted Pear Butter, and it is easy, and you can can it, or not...ours didn't last long enough to can, though!

If you're interested, CC, just email me at fastweedpuller at gmail dot com okay?


Kevin said...

When I was a kid my grandmother made awesome pear preserves.

Caley said...

What a wonderful problem.
I recommend some baked pears! Here's our blog post on it:

ChrisB said...

CC I cannot believe that daughter of mine - she has said what immediately came into my mind as I read your post (poached in red wine). What a shame I can't scrump some!!

Dagny said...

Speaking of poaching, my dad uses port when he poaches pears.

cookiecrumb said...

El: Pear butter was my first choice (until Liz talked me into trying cider). I'm still going to do it. I happen to have, and adore, a roasted peach butter recipe. I suspect it will be somewhat similar to your roasted pear butter, don't you? To save you the trouble of transcribing your recipe. But thanks. Wow.

Zoomie: Sorry, but that sounds like the kind of dessert you could only eat once a decade. (Is that where we get the word "decadent"? Heh.)

Kudzu: This is a magic garden. Pest-free. No gophers, no crazy birds (yet), hardly even any insects.
Thanks for the courage and suggestions. Preserved pears in ginger syrup. Cornball, and yet... !

Mouse: I am totally poaching some pears in red wine. Thanks for the memory jog.

Katie: Talk about well-behaved trees! I wonder if my tree will produce next year. If it doesn't, and if I don't preserve some this year, I'm a dolt. :D

Beccy: If you lived close to me, you'd be out back on a ladder this very minute.

Liz: Har! You are a darling. I did use cheesecloth. Seems like such a waste of pear product, but you do get this incredible nectar. Thank you.

Kevin: Pears seem so fresh and ephemeral to me, it's just hard to imagine preserving them... But I must. ;-)

Caley: Yay! A recipe. Merci.

ChrisB: I'd send you a box of green pears, but my county is under quarantine for a destructive little moth, alas.

Dagny: Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.

Sam said...

I love poached pears too. Does it run in the family do you think? I can't believe the pair of them neglected to mention the chocolate sauce accompaniment though...

cookiecrumb said...

Sam: Actually, now that I think about it, Bartletts may be too soft for a good poach. May have to pare down my ambitions.

Zoomie said...

Just visited http://kokonuggetyumyum.blogspot.com/ and she has a pear tart recipe you might check out. Obachan from Japan!

Dagny said...

You can poach a Bartlett pear. It just cannot be completely ripe or else it will disintegrate.

El said...

Roasting is magical by any foodstuff, except (I'm guessing) greens, so that peach buttah should work for you! Do let us know about the grand cider experiment, won't you?

Sean said...

Mmm ... I heart pears in all forms. May I recommend some lovely pear butter? We're still enjoying the bounty of last fall's efforts.

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: Blog contagion! I know she found you through me... Thanks for the tart suggestion.

Dagny: Aha! Yes. We will try it with some firmer ones.
PS: The ice cream maker at Three Twins in San Rafael agrees with you about poaching them in port. Mm.

El: I'm doing it today! Can't wait any longer... Anyhoo, the pear cider is still sludgy. Tastes great, though. I'll think of a good use for it.

Sean: You don't know this, but months ago when Tea first visited my new home, she suggested pear butter, based on your project last year. (She has a scary photographic memory.) So it's way high on my list. xx

Kathleen said...

Not sure how I got to this site, but you all sound like such great cooks, and like you really like to cook, and you CAN cook, gee whiz. Do any of you live near me in Eugene, Oregon? I go to the store and buy an organic pear and eat it. I don't know one kind from another and have to hope that its ripe and yummy instead of knowing this for a fact. Then I make a huge bowl of popcorn and call it dinner. Gosh this is making me cringe.

cookiecrumb said...

Hi, Kathleen. Yeah, we're a bunch of food nerds. I don't claim any great cooking skills, but it's fun to knock around in the kitchen.
I know a food blogger in Portland, but I'm not sure about Eugene. I hope somebody hooks up with you; it's fun. Keep poking around.
(I had popcorn for lunch the other day, while watching Ratatouille.)