Farm Life: Preserving the Harvest, Part 5, Apples and Pears

Over the years we have planted several types of fruit trees, in addition to the volunteer peach.  My first attempt at apple trees came from a big box store.  The gypsy moths ate one, and the other two produce apples which are best harvested green and made into apple sauce or tossed over the fence to the goats.  About ten years ago, I started three apples from seeds from our favorite local apple, the Virginia Gold.  We knew that these would be pollinated by another variety of apple, and thus not true.  But, the experiment has worked with two now bearing crisp Autumn apples.  A couple of years ago, we added apricots and a plum.  On either side of the driveway are our pear trees. 

Seed Grown Apples

This year scald and various bugs did in most of apples, but our pear tree branches hung low with heavy fruit.  Apples are easy to harvest.  Pick and eat.  Pick and make into sauce.  Pick late in the season to store in the root cellar.  Pears are fussy.  Wait until they turn golden and red, and you will have a beautiful skin and rotten core.  Thus you strip pear trees when the fruit if full but still green.  Pears ripen best in a cool place, so a root cellar is ideal, assuming that you have a root cellar and lots of boxes and wood shavings.

Barrels to Bushels

With about ten or a dozen boxes staged in the shade, add a layer of wood shavings.  Then pick away, sorting out storage pears from goat pears.  Once each box has a layer of pears, cover them with shavings and another layer of pears, until the box is full.  The buckets of goat pears will need to sit inside the garage until they begin to ripen in a week.  The boxes of pears rest in the root cellar for about three weeks.

Three weeks later, devote a couple of days making sauce from all those pears which, of course, ripen all at once.  You can set aside a few of the better looking pears for lunches, keeping them chilled in the refrigerator.  The rest are “use today” or compost.  I timed my picking and storage time to end when Emily was here to help process them.

600 Pears for Storage

Ripe Now

Apples are easy compared to pears when making sauce.  Apples are relative spherical and firm.  They fit on a device that peals, cores, and slices them for quick deposit in the the crock pot.  Pears are… pear-shaped and lumpy.  They are arthritis -inducing hand pealing, coring, and slicing.  Fortunately, we had counter height chairs, classical music (make your own selection) and conversation for the day.

Three Bushels, Sauced

After filling three crock pots with pear slices, we left them to cook for a couple more hours while we walked the dogs out to pick up the mail.  Upon returning and  attending to a couple of other garden and household chores, the pears were soft and ready for smoothing out with the stick blender.  From there, hot water bath canning gave us a dozen quarts of pear sauce.  Tomorrow, we will take on the last 2 1/2 bushels of pears.


About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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8 Responses to Farm Life: Preserving the Harvest, Part 5, Apples and Pears

  1. The Vicar says:

    Great to see all those pears ripening in the boxes. I have been enjoying home grown apples this week courtesy of our local grown, bee keeper/graphic artist at work, who brought in a basket of delicious crunchy apples from her yard. It made me think of you and the ongoing efforts that are needed to plant, nurture, harvest, and prepare all that grows on the mountain. Thanks for the pictures and the words.

  2. Mother Suzanna says:

    Now you might not think I’ve ever had an encounter with a green pear outside of the local market, but I must have been 7 or 8 when we were at Aunt Cora’s in Chico. Now Aunt Cora and Uncle Berny had a ranch with almond trees and a huge veggie garden and many fruit trees AND a dark and scary basement where they spread out their green pears on newspaper to ripen. What scared the living day-lights out of me were the tiny snakes that would wiggle among the pears when you went down to see if they were ripe enough to eat. Seventy years later, it is still a vivid memory!!!

  3. LaTaj says:

    What I miss most from the east coast is no Macintosh Apples out here. I love them, used to eat them from the green sour stage, to fully matured, red skins. Had an apple farm within walking distance, and from early to late fall, regular nightly raids yielded pockets full of treats.

  4. dorothy marshall says:

    please tell me the best variety of pears for making preserves

    • hermitsdoor says:

      I do not have a technical answer, as we have only 2 pear trees, which we planted a dozen years ago. The easy answer is to preserve the fruit from the trees in your yard, or from the farmer’s market. Consdering that over the course of the year, I ate all of the pear-sauce that we made last year, I have not complaints. Thanks for checking in.

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