Monday, August 22, 2016

What can you do with hard cooking pears?

When I moved to the south and go to the apartment I'm in now, I was excited to see there were many fruit-bearing trees and vines in the yard. Fig, apple, pecan, scuppernong, and pear trees abounded. The first time I picked a pear and bit into it, I just about broke my teeth. I waited and waited for the pears to get ripe, but they never softened.

That is because they are windfall pears. I do no know why they are called windfall pears, other than the fact that "they are so hard to eat that they stay on the tree until the wind makes them fall, and even then, the squirrels won't eat them." That's my definition.

But us frugal people hate to see a lovely looking fruit go to waste. There must be something one can do with them? Isn't there?


After my first year here trying to freeze them, cook them, poach them ... I gave up. I do not enjoy making jam or jelly or dealing with sterilizing jars, so that seemed to be that.

But the other day a friend gave me a bag of hard pears, and so here I go again. This time, I decided, I won't give up.



The thing is, I don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. That's why I do all my cooking on Sunday for the week ahead. When you live alone, every single thing that has to be done in my life, has to be done by me. So the more things I can collapse into a convenient bundle, the better.

I also don't like coring or seeding fruit. I don't like being sticky. I know, I know, I'm persnickety about a lot of things.

I decided to boil the 12 pears I had been given with skins on and pare them when they cooled. That way, I wouldn't have to deal with seeds and cores. Ha, HA, take that, cores! I washed them, took the stems off, and simply popped them into a large pot with water. What I didn't do is add something to the water for flavor, such as cinnamon or lemon or other spices. I forgot. That would have been good to do.

I brought the water to a boil then turned it to simmer until the pears were soft. I don't know how long it took, because I was happy not to have to babysit the pears and I went off to do other things. It was a good while though, about 45 minutes.


Bring to a boil,

Then simmer

They were done when a knife went through them easily. I cooled them on a clean towel.


When they were cool enough to handle, I cut them up with skins on. There is a lot of flavor in the skins. Plus, easier. The dozen pears even after having been boiled, yielded a lot of meat.


On the left in the small pot, a simple sugar. Also, I finally dragged out the lemon juice from the fridge. I added both to the chopped pears and simmered again. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the pears further along, but I knew I wanted them soft, really soft. I used 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water. I used two caps full of lemon juice. I also added ginger.


Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. Actually, no trouble. It's a mainly hands free process. The only time I really had to handle them was cutting up the softened pears. The rest of the time, it did its thing on its own!


I simmered until the liquid was gone. I cooled it and popped it in the fridge. I now have a mound of soft, tasty pears. Today for lunch I put a few spoons of the pear compote into my fruit salad. I will also use it in oatmeal, on cottage cheese, and in yogurt. You can also add raisins, craisins, almonds, or walnuts. Add to ice cream, top pound cake, or just plop some whipped cream on a mound of pear compote for a yummy dessert. What other ways can you think of to use a pear compote like this?

Anyway, that is my easy-peasy method of using up windfall pears!


2 comments:

east texas rancher said...

My Grandmother made lots of dishes from these pears. Since they are hard crisp she'd make pear pie, using an apple pie recipe. She would also make applesauce or pear preserves, done in slices....and then she had another recipe that used red hots, the candies to make a red-hot candied pears to serve next to ham.

I even saw her pickle some once...and those were tasty....
Good luck with your pears...

east texas rancher said...

My grandmother, too, made pear pie...using apple pie spices....And while you knew they were pears, the extra crunch made them delicious...