[Guest article by Patti Moreno]
Pear trees are a great choice to grow in your garden. Closely related to apples, pears grow well in cool temperate climates, making them perfect for North American growers. They can tolerate cold winters and will bloom little white, five-petaled flowers every spring. Pear trees bear fruit from August until October, and the fruit comes in shades of green, yellow, red, and brown. Pear trees thrive in moist, fertile soil.
There are many varieties and types of pears. European pears are the classic type with the tapered-shape we often see in grocery stores and they are soft when ripe. Asian pears are more similar to apples, complete with a rounded shape. They are also much firmer than classic pears, even when ripe.
America is the third largest pear-producing country in the world, and Bartlett pears are one of the most commonly grown varieties. The first trees (known as the “Williams Pear”) were imported from England and planted on the estate of Thomas Brewer in Roxbury, Massachusetts (right where I live now). Enoch Bartlett purchased the estate and continued to cultivate these pears. He never new the exact name for this tasty variety, so as any good and humble gardener would do, he named it after himself! Decades later, the Bartlett pear’s true identity was revealed, but by then it was too late. The “Bartlett” was here to stay.
Growing pear trees is very easy. Most require a pollinator but, if you’re limited on space, consider the self-pollinating Stark® Custom Graft® 2-N-1 Pear tree from Stark Bro’s. Bartlett pears are hardy in zones 5-8, require full sun and bear fruit beginning in late August. Once Bartlett pear trees get going, they are quite prolific — some have been known to bear close to 400lbs of fruit! Bartlett Pears are also excellent for canning and baking.
Below is my How to Make Pear Preserves video and recipe:
- 5lbs of Bartlett pears – yellow, green or red
- 1 & 1/2 cups of sugar
- 1 cup of honey
- 2 square inches of fresh Ginger root, peeled & cubed
- 2 medium size lemons, thinly sliced
- 2 cups of water
- Start by peeling & core your pears, then slice in half the long way.
- Place water & sugar in a pot & simmer until the sugar dissolves in the water (about 2 minutes).
- Cube ginger & thinly slice the lemons.
- Place the pears, ginger, lemon, & honey in the pot. Bring to a boil; simmer uncovered for about 1 & 1/2 to 2 hrs, or until syrup is thick. Allow to cool — this will help thicken the syrup further.
- Place pear preserves into mason jars, leaving a 1.4 of space at the top of the jar.
To vacuum-seal your mason jars: boil a large pot of water, enough water so that the mason jars will be covered. Leave mason jars in for 20min. Remove mason jars & allow them to cool on the kitchen counter. The cooling process will finish the vacuum-sealing process.
Enjoying the fruits of my labor,
Patti Moreno, The Garden Girl