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Help! Too many pears

My comice pear tree has been wildly prolific this year. I have canned some in a brandied, vanilla bean syrup. Some have been poached in port, cinnamon, orange juice, cloves and cranberries.

But I have pounds and pounds still. To be honest, they aren't the best eating pear. The flavor is weak to my taste. And they get soft when heat is applied (so making a tart, for instance, worries me).

I'd feel better about donating them to a food bank if they had more flavor.

Ideas, please, for using them in food preparation.

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  1. Google the caramelized pears with cream from PBS's Essential Pepin. It's dead simple and insanely good. Essentially, you sugar the pear halves and bake a while, then add cream and bake until it reduces. The baking should intensify the flavor, though if it's really weak I would add some pear schnapps and/or almond extract.

    2 Replies
      1. re: Discerning1

        That's it. As you can see, it's easy. Words cannot describe how good it is, and it's just as good with apples. Probably peaches, plums, etc., as well, though they'd disintegrate. You do need to use actual cream for that luscious flavor. Don't try to make this a low-cal dessert.
        On the other hand, a small portion is satisfying.

    1. Make and can pear butter. It uses a lot, and you can reduce it down to concentrate the flavor.

      1. Years ago, when we lived in Missouri, our old pear tree had a very prolific year. They were the hard, "cooking/canning" pears... never got soft enough to eat raw. I made pear chutney. I can't find the exact recipe. It was in one of my Southern community cookbooks. But, this one is similar:
        We loved it! Gave it as gifts, ate it with soft cheeses, with Indian food, etc., etc. We moved to GA later that year and left the tree behind. I still long for that chutney!

        3 Replies
        1. re: onrushpam

          Yes, Pear Butter is wonderful. Also, my husband's aunt made Pear Honey with fruit from our tree. Some versions are strained and really look like honey. But, her version had chunks of pears in it, something like this: http://www.heritagerecipes.com/pickle...

          1. re: onrushpam

            I'm confused. Since the recipe calls for a cup of vinegar, is this a sweet and sour flavor? The name Pear Honey sounds sweet.

            1. re: Discerning1

              I haven't actually made that recipe. As I recall, the Pear Honey made by DH's aunt was very sweet, but it did have some acid to it... vinegar or lemon juice. I'm guessing the vinegar isn't all that noticeable in the recipe I linked to and without it, the "honey" would darken.
              The chutney recipe, OTOH, is definitely sweet/sour/spicy.

        2. Donate them to the FB, when food is in need flavor takes a back seat, they still have a nutritional value.

          1. I have made pear honey more interesting by adding candied ginger and a whole lemon as I grind (or Cuisinart) the pears, then also adding a can of crushed pineapple to the mix before I boil it all down.

            1. May I send you a racoon? One will take care of a large pear tree, sleep in it, eat in it, etc.

              1 Reply
              1. re: shallots

                I'll trade you for a gopher, Shallots.

              2. Growing up, we had a sickle pear tree in our yard, which produced a lot of pears every year. My grandmother used to make pear sauce with it. It was the kind of dessert a kid doesn't necessarily want, but years later I used to stay at the 4 Seasons in LA on business quite a bit, and the pear sauce they served with their carrot-bran muffins on their "health" menu was out of this world. I think it had some ginger in it, but it was extremely simple/

                1. I would make cider or brandy.

                  1 Reply
                  1. There's a nice pear bread on Smiten Kitchen , and pear sauce freezes well and can be spiced up to add flavor.

                    1. Here in Georgia, pear trees are everywhere. One old traditional method that the old-timers use is to make pear preserves. It's not jam...the pears are sliced paper thin and cooked in a sugar syrup till the syrup is no longer soupy. Served over fresh hot biscuits, it's heaven! I canned some this year and last, and it was so nice in the middle of winter to have that pear flavor.

                      Another option is pear-vanilla jam, or gingered-pear jam or just plain ol' pear jam!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                        Gingered pear jam is heavenly. If you use crystalized or candied ginger in it, look for the dried fruits and nuts sections of ethnic markets. I got it for $7.98/lb here. Penzey's Spices wanted $20/lb. And the local supermarket was selling it for #3.98 for 2 ounces. I've haven't seen a recipe for it, but the Sassy Cow Creamery makes an extraordinary gingered pear ice cream. So that might be another idea.

                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                          sounds like my Mom's Pear Honey. She shreds the pear really fine and the texture is what I love most about it.

                        2. I'd try to find some over-ripe apricots and make Apricot-Pear Nectar, about 1/4 apricot to 3/4 pear juice. Depending on your ability to juice the pears, of course. (I'd puree the apricots and push them through a coarse strainer.

                          Juicing is a lot of work, but uses a ton of fruit. Happy processing!

                          1. This may be out of your scope if you don't have the hardware but I would suggest making an ice cream out of those poached pears, throw them in a cinnamon base. In order to avoid them breaking apart during poaching keep the temp low, I wouldn't use a port myself a red wine would impart less sweetness. With this in mind the pears could be used in salads with flavours like mesclun, arugala and strong blue or soft fresh cheeses. For example a salad of mesclun, red wine vin and blue cheese, or a pear stuffed with marscapone on a bed of arugala.

                            If you would like to make a tart, but are afraid of softness occuring, I suggest blind baking tart shells and glazing raw pears with gelatin, other flavours can also be introduced or perhaps another glazing method.

                            No one seems to have mentioned savoury applications, but the pears could be used to stuff pork roasts or poultry to provide some moisture.

                            1. You can poach those pears very lightly in any red wine, with lemon zest and cloves. Can be served as-is, or use chunks of them prepared as above, added to an almond cake base. This is heavenly, and I'll print the recipe if you'd like. You can dice them and saute them in a little butter and apple juice, let it reduce and then layer it with granola and vanilla yogurt - nice dessert, or snack, or even breakfast. Cold pear soup - you could doctor it up to add flavor to the pears in lots of different ways, with different spices. Pear/lemon/honey/ginger jam - reduced as much as jam is, I'm sure the pears would work in this, and omg on a buttered English muffin, there's nothing better!