food fest 10: can i eat these mystery pears?

pear2THIS WEEK IT’S “LAST CALL” of our 10-week Food Fest series with the Dinner Tonight blog, but rather than sounding a last call I’m calling out for help. What in the world do I do with a giant old pear tree loaded with rock-hard fruit? Anybody got a recipe for ripening (or want to break the news to me to just give up)?

I don’t even know if this lone pear, with its handsome lichen-covered trunk (background, below), is “wild,” or was planted by a previous owner, as were the remaining half-dozen or so big old apples that have already seen most of a century on this land, a remnant of a long-ago fruit orchard.

Each year I’ve just enjoyed the pear for the character-filled tree that it is, and written off the fruit as useless, and a nuisance at that, since much of it drops to the ground and creates an experience not unlike mowing over golfballs (if you don’t slip and fall first after stepping on one).  Birds and other wildlife love it, but the one time I tried a bite it was gritty and near-impenetrable.

Pears don’t ripen on the tree, and require some chill to do so as well, that much I know. I’ve read the lowdown on all of this from the Oregon State Extension, situated in prime pear-growing country. But some varieties require two days of chill, at about 30 degrees, and others need a couple of weeks or even six. The true wild pear never really ripens to a humanly palatable state.

I was hoping to make and put up an intriguing-sounding Caramel Pear Butter with 7 pounds of the pears per batch…but maybe I’m just dreaming. Anybody have any experience with stubborn “wild” pears?


As Deb of Dinner Tonight will tell you, this week’s not Pear Week but really “Last Call” of Food Fest, meaning whatever you’re still cooking fresh from the garden or farmer’s market is what we want to hear about.  Stocking up on a final batch of pesto ice cubes, or did you snag some remaining sweet corn for a final freezer batch? Clicking on the category called “Edibles” in the right-hand column of this page will take you through the 10 weeks of Food Fests, and hundreds of links and comments with recipe suggestions from the expanding community this project helped created. (That means you.) There are many, many more recipes over at Dinner Tonight, the blog for Everyday Food magazine, so I recommend a visit. Speaking of which…


Now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip for your last-minute harvest favorites? Leave it in the comments below. Then be sure to go visit my friend Deb at Dinner Tonight and do the same. The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your idea and favorite links (whether to your own blog or another’s) at both host blogs.

Thanks for attending our debut season of Food Fests. Deb and I promise there will be more cross-blogging to come, if not right this minute. We’re always cooking up something…but in case I forget, won’t somebody remind me on Twitter? Thanks.

  1. Carol Kelly says:

    A friend makes what she calls “pear honey” but it is a pear butter. I don’t have her recipe, but I know she adds fresh grated ginger to the pot. She helps me cook a garden luncheon at our Senior Center 3 of the summer months each year from the produce I harvest from the garden I maintain there. We also run off copies of the recipes in hopes that the people will try them for themselves.
    In one corner of the property is an old pear tree growing where there used to be a farmhouse, and we gather the pears each fall to make into a dessert for the September luncheon. A couple of years ago, in lieu of a pear dessert (we used wild apples that year!) she made a big batch of her pear butter and we put it into small snack-sized containers for those attending the luncheon to take away. Of course, most folks tasted it right there; most had never had ear butter before and thought it was excellent.

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