Bye-bye, friendly but overwhelming pears

I took a very special photograph today, a plate of tiny poached pears stuffed with cream cheese. Why is the photo special? It represents the last four pears. What a relief!

Stuffed poached pearsBarry’s parents have several pear trees that produce delicious pears every fall. Unfortunately, they produce too many of them, and they ripen all at once.

Two years ago, we took as many as we could eat and gave pounds of them away to friends. We made batch after batch of pear sauce. Then I found a juicer at the thrift store. We began to juice many pears each day, tossing in a small lime or lemon wedge, peel and all, to give the juice some additional “zing.” This went on for days, until one day, the thrift store juicer whined and gasped and croaked. It was worth the $3 I’d paid for it, and had almost gotten us through the season.

Last year, we took another huge batch, but we didn’t give as many away. Instead, we borrowed a food dryer, dipping the cored pear quarters into Fruit Fresh and then drying them for hours. The work was interminable and the results tiny. We ended up with about a gallon of little pieces of dried pear skin. Not worth the effort, even if they were chewy and sweet.

This year, we found a blender at the thrift store and discovered pear smoothies. We used at least four pears a day, and the motor on the sturdy blender was up to the task. I stopped in to visit a friend at breakfast-time last week. “I have a treat for you,” she said, “we made pear smoothies this morning.” I couldn’t help but laugh. Not only had I already had a pear smoothie that day, but after two months of them, a pear smoothie was no longer a treat!

Barry and I also took pear crisp or pear cobbler to every potluck, giving us a chance to refine the recipe. Each batch called for three pears, but we doubled the topping and sometimes used as many as ten pears. We made salads that used the pears, along with home-grown apples and cucumbers. Barry made sparkling pear cupcakes, halving the recipe but accidentally leaving the same number of pears as a full recipe. No surprise, they were very moist! Finally, this morning, I was down to the last eight, the tiniest ones. They were too cute to put in the blender.

So I carefully peeled them and cut the cores out, then poached them and stuffed them with cream cheese. As I handled the delicate things, they felt like old friends. But after I ate them, I could only feel relief. They’re gone, and now I finally get to eat something else!