Friday, October 28, 2011

Apples and Pears from Roadside Trees

My mid-20th century house is on an old road, co-existing with the remnants of older landscapes. Apple trees dot the roadside woodline. Although today they are ignored and overgrown, they indicate that earlier residents planted and used these excellent fruits. A hearty old apple tree peeks out of the woods along the road just east of my house, and this year it was loaded with small pretty green apples, ripening with a tinge of red. There is also a small pear tree growing at the end of my driveway. It was “always there” while I grew up; today it is in bad shape, half-dead: but every summer it produces a healthy crop of small hard pears.
This August I finally “got” or “took” or “seized” the time to pick a small bucket each of the pears and apples, and prepared a combination sauce. The photos show the apple tree; the half-prepared pears; and the resulting thick creamy apple-pear sauce.
These wild or feral fruits take a little longer than their fully tame cousins to prepare. They are small and hard. They require cutting with a small sharp knife, and cleaning out of seeds and bug-holes. I did not peel them.
I put the resulting mixed fruit (three-four cups total) in a pan on the stove with a small amount of water, and let it come to a rolling simmer. I stirred the pan and left it – for only about four minutes – and when I looked again the apples had sort of exploded into a creamy mass. The pears were firmer and retained their shape and intense pear flavor. I stirred, tasted, and added 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, as the sauce was too tart for me (and I like tart).
This wild apple-pear sauce was creamy, dense, mousse-like. Wonderful, powerful. I’ll do it again. Gets easier once you have done it the first time!

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