When we bought our house there were six large Keifer pear trees in our front yard. They had gotten extremely tall making them difficult to pick, we hadn't yet learned the best way to ripen pears and even when a couple ripened successfully, they weren't that tasty. Eventually, we cut them down.
Back in the little orchard behind the house however, was/is a pear tree of a different variety. We took better care to prune it and tried year after year to eat and use its fruit. It's a tough little tree. Not only has it survived another tree falling on it and has provided shade and shelter for our chickens but every year it gives us a nice little crop of small pears.
in the shade of the pear tree
(If any of you recognize the variety, I'd love to hear it. They are small, tart and change from green to yellow as they ripen. We don't spray them, so this is what the un-sprayed version of this variety looks like.)
Once we learned the best way to ripen them, I started canning them and we all started eating them fresh because they are wonderful when allowed to ripen properly (otherwise, they ripened from the inside out). This year they were especially small so the thought of peeling and canning them was not appealing so the plan was to try my hand at making pearsauce.
Jamey picked two 5-gallon buckets full (later regretting he didn't pick more) and he carried them over to our neighbor's house who generously keeps an empty refrigerator in their basement for our use. Thank you, Marie!! After chilling them for a few days, these same generous neighbors allowed us to lay them out on newspaper on their basement floor to ripen. On Saturday Sam brought the pears back over in our little red wagon. I halved them, removing the stem and loaded them into pots to cook them down.
You use the same method to make pearsauce as you do to make applesauce. I did make a couple adjustments. First, the pears were much juicier so I needed to pour off most of the liquid before loading them into my Food Strainer (we call it a "Squeezo"-the brand my mother has) otherwise I got more of a pear juice than a sauce. Because these pears are tart, I also added some sugar. The hot sauce was canned and processed in a hot water bath for 35 minutes.
The result was AMAZING. We all love it- possibly more than we love our applesauce and that is saying something. And we have plans to turn every last pear on next year's tree into pearsauce (except those we eat out of hand, of course). Our two five gallon buckets yielded 10 and a half quarts and a bowlful for eating and making Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread. If you haven't tried that recipe yet, you must. I make it most often without even turning it upside down- we just spoon it out of the pan.