September 17: Pear

Sophie Conran Pick's Pear

Our beloved pear has a long and rather illustrious history, being of Asian descent and thought to have come from 2 ancient wild varieties in Western China that gradually became our 3000 or so cultivars that now grace our orchards and gardens with fruit bearing, ornamental and even a couple of evergreen trees. Loved for their blossom and elegant habit, but above all the fruit which our pre historic sisters dined on and was recorded by Pliny who recommends pears stewed with honey and an alcoholic drink. Perry, a pear cider is still produced today becoming popular in the West country in the 16th century. It was revived in the 1950’s by a clever chap called Francis Showering who put it in a teeny champagne like bottle and called it Babycham. Perry is still made by his sons and is fantastically popular with the festival crowd. The fruit can be picked before it is ripe and stores well at room temperature where it will ripen. Eaten at its zenith it is one of life’s pure juicy joys. The pear is fantastic to cook with making wonderful chutney, gorgeous crumble and tart Tatin. It goes particularly well with a salad of endive walnuts and blue cheese and is sublime poached with sugar wine and saffron which turns it into a golden pyriform of loveliness.

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