This past weekend I had the good fortune to make a neighborly connection at the Farmer’s Market in town. I was there peddling some tasty jams and jellies and doing a bit of socializing with the other vendors about their wares. It turned out that a family member of one had far more pears than they knew what to do with. This was fortuitous for us, as I am more than happy to find uses for pears….
After some conversation I asked if I might have some and they were more than happy to let us come by. By us I mean my children and I. So after lunch and everyone had cleared the market we took some re-usable shopping bags and headed to the home of the relative, which was not far. Now I have several re-usable bags. I don’t buy them, as there is controversy as to whether the making of these bags might be more environmentally harmful than the use of plastic bags, but I do collect those that are given out at events, any that I know might be disposed of, and I make some from up-cycled materials. So it is not that surprising that we left that home with 11 bags of pears.
We did not differentiate “good” pears from those that might have had some damage or starting rot. The grandmother who owned the house mentioned using the bad pears to feed deer, so I got the kids moving faster by explaining that it was easier to just pick up everything and we’d sort it later. Without weighing what we brought home, I would estimate that we were gifted to receive nearly 75 pounds of pears.
It took me nearly a week to process all of this.
Those pears became a lot of things in my pantry:
- 14 pints of pear sauce
- 10 pints of pear halves in syrup (some with cinnamon)
- 5 half pints of pear honey (a recipe I received from the owner of the pear trees)
- 7 pints of pear bits
- 7 pints of pear butter
- Several pear and jello fruit leathers
My chickens happily received skins and cores and the deer got probably 20 pounds of soft pulpy pears, skins, and cores.
The most exciting to me was the last thing I made. On impulse, I googled the process to make pectin. I read about the preference to use crab apples or windfall apples that are too hard to eat and I can understand that these offer the greatest concentration of pectin. Being frugal, I wanted to see what I could get out of scraps.
As I peeled and prepped pears for canning, I set aside cores and skins enough to fill a good sized soup pot (it holds a gallon of milk, stock, etc.). I added water and boiled for nearly an hour. Following the directions I had read I dripped off the liquid for quite some time, and then boiled it, again. While it was not much, I finished the day with 5 to 6 ounces of thick, syrupy pectin made from the scraps of free pears. It got me thinking how much more I could have had if I had not discarded the previous scraps so quickly. No wonder the saying is to waste not, want not….