As warm and as wet as our summer has been, the pear trees on the farm are over-producing and dropping fruit of all sizes with the slightest provocation.
Did a bird fly by too fast? Boop! A pear hits the ground. The chickens love the bounty and the horses now expect pears for dessert. You don’t want to know about the swarms of crawling and flying insects drawn to the drops, especially the fermenting fruit.
But of course, the best use for such harvest is in the kitchen. Nothing says autumn’s coming like pears and apples. (OK, pumpkins do, but they’re not ready for prime time yet.)
Here are three innovative ways to use pears, good for any meal and a sure bet to tickle the palate. Look for ripe pears but not overripe (throw those out for the partying insects).
MAPLE COOKED PEARS
3 medium pears, washed, cored, and cubed (Remove any rough spots on skin)
1/4 C sliced almonds
2 Tbls toasted wheat germ
2 Tbls maple syrup
1 Tbls butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
11/2 C (12 ounces) vanilla yogurt
41/2 tsp maple syrup
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Transfer to a greased 1-qt. baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until the pears are tender. In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Serve with warm pears. Yield: 4 servings.
Tip: You can add 2 tablespoons of quick-cook oats in addition to or in place of the wheat germ.
2 Tbls. fresh lime juice
1/4 C pineapple juice
3 anjou pears, unpeeled, cored, diced into small pieces
3 medium red delicious apples, unpeeled, cored, and diced into small pieces
2 Tbs. fresh mint, diced
3 mild chilies, seeded, minced
Mix pineapple and lime juices in a large, ceramic or glass bowl. Add the pears and apples and mix well to combine juices with fruit and to prevent the fruit from turning brown. Add the chilies last. Chill at least an hour and serve. In a separate bowl as a side dish or condiment Set out minced mint to be sprinkled as a garnish. Makes about a 11/2 cups.
French or Italian loaf bread, sliced
Bacon, cooked, 2-3 slices per sandwich
Bartlett pear(s) (About ½ pear per sandwich, if pears are large.)
Sharp white cheddar cheese or other high quality sharp cheese
Mayonnaise or creamy salad dressing (optional)
Pinch nutmeg per sandwich
Butter or margarine, softened
Heat a cast iron skillet or other large skillet to medium high heat. Wash pear(s). Peel if desired. Cut into medium-thin slices, about ¼ in. thick. Spread butter or margarine on one side of each piece of bread. Spread mayonnaise or salad dressing on the other side, if desired. Layer your sandwich on the dressing side of a slice so that it goes – bread slice, cheese, pear slices (3 to 4 per sandwich, depending on pear and bread size), sprinkle of nutmeg over the pears, bacon, final bread slice.
Place the sandwich on the hot pan. Let cook for a minute and turn over with a spatula. While toasting the sandwich on the remaining side, press down on the top with a spatula to even out heating. Sandwich is done when the sides are toasted and the cheese is melted. Cut in half and serve.
Alternatively, you can use a panini press. Or, place sandwiches on a tin foil-lined cookie sheet (spray foil with pan spray) and bake at 400 degrees until top is toasted and cheese is melted and browning. May require turning over once.
By Jean Redstone