Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Wisconsin 101: La cosecha

I told you I would tell you about the pears.

We have a pear tree in our back yard. It is taller than our house, which is a two-story house. It is a tall tree and the first year in our house, we did not know it was a pear tree. We thought it gave off some kind of weird apple that didn't taste good and had brown spots all over the fruit, so we just threw all the fruit in the trash, which you are not supposed to do here, because technically, fruits is yard waste and not trash and in this state, it is illegal to put yard waste in the trash.

But we did it because we did not have our separate yard waste container - I don't know why the guy who sold us the house didn't leave us his yard waste container, unless he never got one, which makes me wonder what he did with the branches that would fall and the pears when he was here.

Then the next year, we realized we actually had edible fruit and it tasted like pear, even though it looked like really ugly apples. So I took a canning class and learned to make and can jam and pickles and I made a ton of jam.

The next year, the tree gave almost no fruit and what little there was had horrible brown spots all over, so we sprayed with herbicide or pesticide  and it made no difference. That was the year my mom showed up with over 50 pounds of apples that she had picked from her cousin's neighbor's yard in northern Wisconsin. She and I spent two days making and canning applesauce.

Last year, we noticed entire branches of the tree turning brown. We called the tree guy and he told us the tree had fire blight.

What is fire blight you ask?

Fire blight = very expensive to treat. That's what fire blight is. Very expensive and no guarantees! No guarantees it will be cured.

Treatment includes cutting off all the affected limbs - our poor skinny tree - and shots.

So. Between the fire blight and the drought last year, no pears last year.

This year, the fire blight seems to be getting better. And we have pears. A ton of them.

Almost every day for the past month, I have come home to find pears waiting for me. SH picks them up from the ground, where they have fallen and splatted and are, in some cases, swarming with bees and wasps, those buzzy things that you know SH loves. (See: SH freaks out at the mud daubers, even though mud daubers do not sting.)

He puts the rotting pears in the compost, using a shovel to pick them up, which I tell him is a big sissy thing to do. I pick them up by hand. The bees do not want me. They want the pears. I can pick up a pear with seven bees and/or wasps and they ignore me. SH is a sissy about this.

He brings the rest in to me. I cut them up - I do not peel them for 1. I am lazy and 2. what is wrong with the peel anyhow? Then I either convert them into pear crisp or I put them in a ziplock in the freezer.

That worked for a while, but then the freezer got close to full. So then I had to start cooking them down. I discovered you can put them in a crockpot overnight with some cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger and in the morning, the volume is reduced by half. There is the added benefit that in the middle of the night, when you get up because your bladder refuses to do a good job, your house smells excellent.

Once reduced and cooled, those pears can be frozen. Now they await my day of canning.

And I've forgotten what I started to talk about here.

Maybe that I am so darn sick and tired of cutting up pears. And that I have started to post on facebook begging friends to take pears. I don't want to cut them up but I don't want them to go waste, either.

And I keep thinking that I HATE PEARS but I know that I will enjoy having pear butter and jalapeno pear jam this winter. But man, it would have been a pain in the neck to be a pioneer woman and have to can all my food and to do it as the harvest is coming in and it's still hot so the kitchen becomes a sweltering sauna but you have to do it or you will starve.


Anonymous said...

I used to feel that way about my super-heavy bearing raspberries. (Two crops: one in July and one in September.) I would beg everyone I knew to take some, freeze as many as I could, and spend a couple of days making jam for Xmas presents. By December, a jar of home-made raspberry jam is like manna!

Have you tried drying your pears? I love them dried, and I don't think it's too hard to do -- sure to be tons of instructions out there in Internet-pioneer land.

Anonymous said...

And here you go!

webb said...

Glad you are having luck with your fire blight. Our crabapple had it and I just gave up and cut it down. We never got any fruit, so it didn't seem like a sacrifice. Had it been a pear, i would have fought harder.

have you looked at Great canning recipes, especially for smaller batches. You may be into LARGE batches, tho!