Friday, September 14, 2007

Parsimony in a Spare Tree

I don't think I told you about the "extra" pear tree.
Heck, I didn't even know there was a "main" pear tree when I decided to move to this house and rip up the backyard for a vegetable garden.
How was I to know that Bartlett pear harvest time coincided exactly with my summer plans?
"Coincided." Heh. That's just a polite way of saying the pear tree tyrannized me, demanding daily attention purely on account of its heavy windfall. And when you pick up that many pears every day, you'd better think of something to do with them.
Dammit. I wanted to luxuriate in my tomatoes and cucumbers. But, no. Big crybaby pears were throwing a fit over there, and I had to cope.
I made gobs of pear butter. My ad-hoc recipe improved with each batch.
I made pear chutney; ditto.
I made pear nectar. Swoon! It takes a LOT of filtering to get most of the grit and sediment out, but... swoon!
And I'm currently attempting to make pear vinegar. (We had to throw a lot of spoiled pears into the Green Can, and as the days wore on, the can developed an irresistible vinegary smell. Inspiration from garbage.)
I finally demanded that a group of friends come over and help me harvest. Yeah. Tom Sawyer-style. We turned it into a groovy patio party, and everyone was required to take home a sack of pears.
Freedom, at last.
But, no.
The "spare" pear tree. Actually, it looks like two saplings, intertwined. They almost certainly sprouted from the seeds of fallen pears from the main tree. Still young, it's already bearing fruit. But it had the good manners to wait a couple of weeks, so we've only just now had to pick the tree clean.
The pears are different, somehow. Squatter. Paler. More buttery!
I'd been plotting to give the spare tree away to anyone foolish enough to dig it up, but you know what? Even after having my entire August monopolized by the big tree... I've fallen in love with the little one.
Tonight: pear tart.
UPDATE: After some discussion in the comments, I've come to believe this spare tree may be a different variety of pear, possibly Comice. Which completely baffles me, because the tree is jammed most inconveniently up against a fence, and in the shade of the main tree. Who would plant there? And why? Ah, mysteries of the over-fruited garden.

24 comments:

El said...

Do tell, Cooks. Is it sprouting off the main tree, or is it some little sprout elsewhere in the Back 40? The reason I ask is that fine fruit trees are grafted onto less-than-fine (for fruit) tree roots of a different type of pear. Two trees in one!

(Biologically, it's because some trees don't come true from seed, like apples and pears; they're all grafted branches from the Great Mother of All Bartletts. Makes for a great argument for biodiversity, I'd say.)

Dagny said...

A second tree? Oh my.

cookiecrumb said...

El: OK, that's blowing my mind. The saplings are about 10 feet away from the large tree. There can be no doubt that the pears have a different shape (still Bartletty with a "cuter" profile, but not huge, grocery-store sized monsters,) and paler-colored stems. They're definitely not inferior fruit, though.
I'm fascinated.

Dagny: You didn't see it? Hell, I didn't see it myself for several months. :D

Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, you lucky duck, you have another whole kind of pears! I suspect Comice but they might be any one of these kinds:
http://www.usapears.com/pears/varieties.asp. Can we have another party???

Anna Banana said...

When I think about my 15 years in the Bay area before I moved to SoCal, I try not to think of the 1 year I lived in Kentfield. It was too beautiful and it makes me sad to remember my view of Mt. Tam. Now you've brought it all back with your talk of your unstoppable pear trees. Here in SoCal gardening is not so easy. Enjoy your pears for me!

claudia said...

in my next life i will be your neighbor and we will sit outside and drink spicy vodka whatever drinks with some pear something or others... and it will be good.

kudzu said...

Gosh, another pear tree? I think it's a different variety from the first harvest. Looks softer and more buttery than the ones you gifted me. My neighbor pruned his pear tree quite severely and there are only two fruits on it now -- and one of them is hanging over my fence! It's a Bartlett shape but red and it has to fall before it's edible (found that out last year when there were more on my side).

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: Dang! I think you're right. I even think it might be Comice, as do you. Because, duh: different shape, different color stem, different RIPENING TIME. Yup, different pear. Too cool! I'm really glad now nobody wanted to dig it up.

Anna Banana: Yeah, but you can grow things in Southern California I can only dream about... Tropical things... Still. Thank you, I will go pear crazy on your behalf. :)

Claudia: Yes, that would be divine. But don't make me ride a bike, OK? And I won't make you eat pickles.

Kudzu: Creeping warily into the universe of pears!! Sheesh.

dancingmorganmouse said...

Do spill the beans on the pear vinegar though - inspiration from garbage - an excellent idea.

shuna fish lydon said...

those pears?

they've made it onto my menu...

!

katiez said...

I can relate! We went down and picked all of our pears about a month ago, set them out to ripen, made butter, ginger-pear jam, freezer butter, ate them 'til we turned yellow... then one day I noticed we missed a few...Hah!
Second picking was as many as the first...
Sadly, (or not) if your tree is like ours there will be very few next year...

cookiecrumb said...

Mouse: Vinegar is hit-or-miss. You put your juice in a CLEAN jar with a lid, and wait. I have only recently figured out the jar needs to be CLEAN. (Or you get mold.) It goes through fizzy "cider" first, and then begins to turn sour. It could still go terribly wrong, though... Waiting. All this is at room temp.

Shuna: I know! I read a quickie i-view with you in the Chron. I couldn't believe my eyes. Can't wait to see what you've conceived, you magician!

Katie: I owe a huge thanks to you for telling me a few months ago that your tree is fickle and sporadic. So I decided to harvest every harvestable pear this year and USE it, in case there aren't any next year.
I hope you had a pleasant harvest.

Casey said...

Our little Comice tree --which last year produced exactly 7 pears-went crazy this year: seven cardboard cartons crazy. We've given away a lot of them and have saved a bunch to eat as dessert along with Humboldt Fog cheese, but I'm also diging through my files for a Pepin recipe from years ago for a pear dish that makes its own caramel as it bakes in the oven.

Stacie said...

inspiration from the garbage... you are the poet! as a kid, i shoveled mass quantities of rotting apricots from our back yard tree, and they always smelled so... how do i say this... good! future alcoholic;D!

Jack said...

I'm sure that other pear tree is a different variety; comice is a possibility - they weren't ripe when we visited you.

KathyF said...

If it's planted near a fence or wall they probably wanted to espalier it. I've seen some beautiful properties here with lovely espaliered pear trees.

And "spare tree". You're so funny!

KathyF said...

Oh, and I know what you can do with your spare pears. Send them to me so I can feed them to the cows!

Last night my husband, who was out back playing with the dog, called me to come out. The same cow I'd fed last night was at the back fence. "The cow wants to know if you have any apples," he said.

"No, I threw the last ones over last night."

"No more apples, Cow," he told her. (If you knew my husband, you'd know how funny that was. I've got him talking to cows now! And he barely talks to people!)

I did have one pear, and he threw that one over. She munched on it, then looked longingly for more.

I'm going to find more pears today for my husband to toss to the lovely ladies!

kitchenmage said...

"...mysteries of the over-fruited garden."

The only mystery is how we bought a house without one. We left an orchard at the last place (2 dozen+ blueberry bushes, dozen kinds of apples, plums, cherries, pears, chinese pears - just starting to bear...) and bought a place with 6 blueberries. Obviously I was having a stupid moment.

Rev. Biggles said...

Mebbe some beer swilling hillbilly was eatin' a comice and threw it in to the yard, over thar. See?

Biggles

cookiecrumb said...

Casey: I'm assuming, then, that Comice trees are little. This one is. Spindly, unpruned. But it managed to churn out dozens of pears. Neat! Next year, I'll expect fewer...

Stacie: Rotting apricots must smell divine. Rotting pears -- straight to vinegar.

Jack: Yeah. Duh. I'm just figuring it all out. Isn't it cool?

KathyF: Oh, I wish I had a cow farm on the other side of the fence. I'd make those kiddos so happy.
And -- espalier? I bet you're right. It's just that this house was rented to a pot farmer for so long that the back yard was totally neglected.

Kitchenmage: That actually sounds like too much fruit for me... But I bet you miss it.

Biggles: Hillbillies eat Comice pears? Nuh-uh!

Jenny said...

oh, the pear envy i suffer...

cookiecrumb said...

Jenny: I feel your pain. But I gotta say, by the end of the summer, I was rather "fed up" with pears!

Books at Bedtime said...

I grew up in southern oregon and also grew up eating comice pears from Harry and David. you are a lucky man to have on in your yard. they simply are the best tasting pears! i live in utah now and hope to find one to buy, plant and hope it survives a utah winter! eat a yummy pear for me :)

cookiecrumb said...

Books at Bedtime: Thanks for coming by (a year later)! Guess what: No comice pears -- at all -- this year. The tree is taking a rest. The Bartlett was still robust (harvest ended a few days ago).
I cross my fingers that you will have a successful tree.