Neither of us has a pear tree* – apples are the priority on our patches – but we do have neighbours who grow a few and this year they seem to have lucked out with bumper harvests. One neighbour’s tree was so laden with fruit that bags of conference pears have been distributed to half the houses in Nick’s street. So despite our apple preference we now have a glut of pears to deal with.
The most obvious things to make with pears are crumbles and tarts, but when those options have been fully exercised what other uses are there? Here’s some surplus pear inspiration…
Pears don’t properly ripen until they have been picked. So while you’re waiting for them to soften and ooze with juice, take advantage of their crispier nature by shredding them on a grater. Grated pears can be used in numerous ways, from mixing into your morning muesli or porridge, stirred into a salad or coleslaw, baking into bread or buns, or our favourite – whisked into a pancake batter.
Like most fruits, pears are happy to spend a while in the freezer. Core them, slice them, box or bag them and stuff them in the freezer until ready to use. Besides using them for some of the other ideas in this piece they’re particularly useful for whizzing into a smoothie when the fresh fruit bowl is low on resources. You can also whizz them up before freezing and make yourself some pear lollies.
Pear jam isn’t the most obvious preserve but it’s a tasty one, particularly if combined with a few well chosen spices. Pear and ginger works a treat but you can easily get carried away with other spices too. We’ll be using our pear surplus to try this recipe from Ginette Mathiot in House & Garden – pear jam with vanilla and clove.
Just as spicy pears work in a sweet preserve, they also go down a treat for a sticky, savoury chutney as an alternative to apple. BBC Good Food has a recipe that looks ripe for tinkering with and we reckon the resulting pickly pears will pair great with Stilton cheese.
Yes, we’ve saved the best until last. The most well known pear-based booze is perry, but unless you specifically have perry pears then you’ll struggle to make anything decent. Instead, try making a cider flavoured with pears by chucking a few fat-bottomed fruits in with the apples.** Pear wine is also well worth attempting, producing one of the best light country wines we’ve ever made – you can our pear wine recipe on this website.
Pear liqueurs are also rather popular and can be made at home by infusing pears in sweetened spirits. It’s not something we’ve tried before but if any neighbours swing by with any more pears then it will be top of our list
*If you discount Rich’s Pointless Pear
**You can find more precise instructions for pear cider and pear wine in our book, Brew it Yourself