Pears with Everything

Conference pear tree

A few years ago we moved to a house with a Conference pear tree in the garden. Weird pruning means the pears mostly grow at the ends of huge spindly branches- no good for climbing, but fine for shaking the fruits off.

Each year, the tree produces more fruit than we can eat. It produces more fruit than the neighbours want to be given. Even the pigeons are outdone by the sheer peary volume the thing grows, and the rotting leftovers make the shed roof beside it squelchy and smelly for months.

The first year, we had no idea what to do with pears. We read up what we could find and tried to store the perfect ones on old freebie supermarket trays in the shed, with the aim of bringing in ripe pears for eating over the next few months. This would have worked if only we were reliable about going out, turning the pears, removing any showing signs of rot and so forth. But, like most families, we kept forgetting. So only about ¼ of the stored pears got eaten- and the rest went weird and squelchy made the inside of the shed smell just like the roof (as an aside, apples are far less particular than pears- even with our levels of neglect, they store just fine for ages on trays- though some varieties store a lot better than others).

Another issue with the pear tree is that when we shake fruits off, they tend to shatter on the side that hits the ground- so they’re no good for shed storing at all. Which is where the next idea started.

Freeze them.

Yes, bottling fruit is a thing- and yes, pears bottle well- a topic for another post. But bottling takes ages, and sticking a load of cored pears in a freezer is really, really quick.

Just cut beside the core 4 times to leave a square of core and 4 (oddly shaped) pieces of pear. Cut off any manky bits. Bung the nice bits on a tray or in a bag, and repeat until you have as many pears as you wish to freeze.

Then use them direct from frozen (don’t defrost first- they go soggy and weird) whenever you like- they’re easy to chop frozen, which is handy.

Obviously, they work in sweet recipes like crumbles, muffins and so on- with the advantage that, like apples and unlike plums, pears don’t go sour from freezing. But they’re actually less sweet than carrot or parsnip, so they work really well in savoury recipes too.

With 4 kids I can usually rely on at least one (more likely two or three) deciding that anything I cook is revolting, but savoury pear recipes usually go down well with the lot of them.

A couple of the favourites are pear and bean casserole (or chilli, or bolognaise, depending on exactly what else goes in or what I serve it with) and pear curry. Pear also goes well with beef or bacon offcuts for meat eaters.

So, without further ado, here is the current favourite recipe (approximately) for pear curry:

(serves about 24- cut down quantities to serve fewer!)

8 or so pears

Half a dozen onions

8 or so largish potatoes

A couple of carrots

Some frozen spinach (this isn’t necessary- but it’s the ONLY time the kids will all happily eat something green…)

A jar of curry paste (the favourite here is Patak’s korma)

A tin of coconut milk

Chop all the vegetables. Fry the onions in a little vegetable oil if you wish.

Put everything in a big saucepan, and add water to almost the top of the vegetables (use this water to rinse the curry jar and coconut tin to use every bit of the sauces).

Bring up to the boil, then cook in the oven on a low heat or, better still, in a slow cooker for at least 4-6 hours or until potatoes are soft.

Serve with rice or naan bread or chapatis


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