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.
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.
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.
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.
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.