Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Making pears last for a few months

Just like the apples, the pear harvest was also mixed. We’ve only three trees in the orchard and another two on dwarf root stock coming on in the fruit cage, but not ready for producing fruit yet. So it fell to three trees to produce our crop.

The earliest of them is a lovely soft, round pear called Beth, which I normally harvest in mid-September. The tree itself is very small and suffers from being under the canopy – and competing with the roots - of a small copse of oak, ash and beech, with a few holly hawthorn and brambles thrown in. I’ll have to cut them back this winter.

But it wasn’t competition for light or nutrients that did for the crop this year but, once again, the cold spring. I don’t think the blossom suffered from frost as the benefit of it being so close to the copse is that it shelters it from frosts and cold south-easterly winds that we are vulnerable to.

However, the lack of pollinating insects was very noticeable at the time of the pear blossom and that looks to have done for virtually the entire crop. We had about three small fruit ripen – just enough to remind us of what we were missing.

The other two trees are later into blossom and faired better. Concorde was the best crop with plenty of good quality pears in the second week of October. And Conference, ripe a couple week later, also did okay with good quality fruit though not so many of them.

I also noticed there were far more pears on the sunnier, south and west facing sides on both of these trees.

We ate a few pears, the rest I’ve tried to process in various ways to keep them as they won’t store for long if left as whole fruit. To this end I’ve made:

• Pickled pears
• Pear, hazelnut and chocolate cake
• Sticky ginger and pear pudding
• Pear and cardamom tart
• Anjou pear cake

I’ll add the recipes or links to them on later articles, along with further links.

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