The owner of a pair of pear trees has given us the green light to harvest as they don't want them. Now, I find this very strange yet beneficial. Who plants fruit trees only to reject the fruit? Pears are wonderful things and we planted two trees which offered us nothing this year. I hope for better results in 2011 but time will tell. So ok.... if you don't want yours, I sure do!
These are keiffer pears and are hard(ish) so off to the innertubes and extension for information as to when and how to harvest.
Did you know: pears ripen from the inside- out? Now I understand why I get mushy pears. When I buy pears at the market and wait with great anticipation for the fruit to resist any finger pressure, they are often beyond eating stage at the core. Well, you'd think after decades of this phenomenon, I'd have figured it out myself, but I need an ag agent to reveal this in words.
So, the keiffer pear is a cooking pear and you CAN eat it fresh but here's the "how to": Don't wait for the pear to feel ready. In the month/weeks of harvest, pick a few off the tree and wrap in brown paper and place in a brown bag in a cool spot for two days. I think the same is true of bartletts and anjou. Just use brown bags instead of those plastic bags. (look over at the bakery section.... you can usually snag a bag there) If the pear was picked and wrapped, you should have a tasty treat. If they are still too hard, peel and cook them in a sugar water bath.
We made 5.5 quarts of brandied pears and they are beautiful in the glass jars. We placed orange slices around the jars and there is a satisfying glow to it. I can't wait to make pear tarts over the holidays.