eat. One doesn’t often get to use the word “windfall” in its literal sense, but after last week’s storm—the remnants of Typhoon Melor, which dumped 10 inches of rain in the Santa Cruz Mountains and brought with it high winds—we ended up with a large windfall of pears:
What to do with them all? Most of the pears were bruised from the fall onto the rocky ground below, so something needed to be done with them post-haste. After consulting various websites devoted to the subject of preserving pears, I decided the easiest thing would be simply to slice and poach them in sugar water and freeze them for later use.
Rather than add any spices or flavorings at this point, I would keep the pears plain, to allow them to be doctored up differently as I use them. Some will no doubt end up as dessert pears, with cinnamon and clove; but some can be transformed into chutney with the addition of vinegar and chili powder (and perhaps a little more cooking), or fried in butter for use in a brandy/cream sauce to top some roast chicken.
For this basic recipe, all you need is pears, lemon juice, sugar and water.
I gathered up all the usable fruit on the ground—which ended up being 25 pears—brought them into the kitchen and washed them.
I filled a large pot with cold water—to put the cut slices in as I worked, so they wouldn’t turn brown—and set about peeling, coring and slicing the pears. (You will notice a few lemons in this picture—also windfall from the storm—which I used in the recipe.)
I did not prove to be a proficient peeler/corer, so it took me almost an hour to complete this task.
Next I scooped the pear slices out of the water with my hands and put them in a new pot, squeezed two lemons’-worth of juice on them,
added a cup a sugar, and then poured in about a cup of water.
I stirred this all up, covered the pot, and cooked them for about ten minutes, stirring often so the slices steamed/cooked evenly.
As soon as a fork went into the pear slices easily, I took them off the heat and let them cool in the pot. They ended up tasting a lot like—and having the same texture as—canned pears.
I then bagged up the ones I wanted to freeze, and put the rest in a container for the fridge, to use over the next week or so (I had some with my oatmeal this morning—tasty!). I recommend laying the baggies of pears flat in the freezer until they’re frozen hard, and then they can be stored standing upright, as in the photo:
There will be a lot of juice left in the bottom of the pot—don’t throw it out! Save it for making a sorbet, or cooking with, or just drinking (it’s quite sweet, but would be great with the addition of some soda water—or rum).
Speaking of falling: Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which destroyed much of downtown Santa Cruz and Watsonville (as well as many structures in the Bay Area). This afternoon at 5:04 p.m. we will raise our glasses in memory of the big event.