Thursday, 21 October 2010

Crop: Vranja

A good crop again, 11.5 kg (25 lb) not counting the early windfalls. The scent is wonderful.

crop: Pixie and Rosemary Russet (our late varieties)

A very disappointing crop of both Pixie and Rosemary Russet, our late apple cultivars. Rosemary was probably having a slightly 'biennial' year after cropping well last year, but Pixie was very badly affected by codling moth for the first time, leaving us with only one medium-sized box to see us through into Spring.

Rogue Red

Just a couple of pears on one spur again this year. 

Crop: Winter Nelis

A much better crop of Winter Nelis this year, weighing in at 3.5 kg, despite quite high losses to squirrel damage at various points. Picked October 16, for reference.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Pear Crumble

My patent recipe for pear crumble (in case I forget!)

6 oz ( 200 g) plain wholemeal flour
3 oz (100 g) margarine or butter
3 oz (100 g) soft dark brown sugar

6 large pears
3 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
glass of Marsala, Sherry or Madeira

Sieve flour into bowl with cinnamon; add sugar, having broken down any lumps. Rub fat into flour/sugar until 'breadcrumb' consistency is achieved.

Peel pears, core and chop coarsely. Place in quite a deep oven-proof container, preferably glass. Sprinkle on sugar and add alcohol. Cover with crumble mix. Place in pre-heated oven at about 160ºC for about 35-40 minutes, until caramelised juice can be seen bubbling around edges. Take care not to burn the dark sugar.

Photo shows a mixture of Sucrée de Montluçon, Conference, Rogue Red, plus a small amount of finely diced quince.

Crop: Sucrée de Montluçon

I deliberately restricted the crop of Sucree de Montluçon to 7 fruit, as I wanted some decent-sized ones to enter in the culinary pear category at the local show, though in the end I did not bother. The theory worked, and I had nice, large even crop, which started dropping this week. The small crop weighed in at a respectable 2.1 kg (nearly 4.5 lbs).

Sucrée is an odd pear, and I can't say I'd agree with other descriptions of its qualities. The texture is very coarse (see photo) and slightly gritty, but very juicy like slightly chewy melon. The flavour is sweet with a slight aromatic quality reminiscent of guava or star-fruit, though overall a bit thin. I usually cook them while still hard. I expected the very hard, green ones I prepared today to be under-ripe, but one just starting to yellow was just right for eating raw.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Using over-ripe pears

Although poorly-ripened pears are usually extremely disappointing eaten fresh (hard on the outside, brown mush on the inside), they actually cook very nicely, as long as they are not too far gone. If the centre is only slightly discoloured, just scoop out the soft bit, and will be very nice for recipes such as fruit crumbles. Even soft pears will keep some substance once cooked, rather than 'fall' to mush like a cooking apple, and the addition of a little brown sugar and a dash of Marsala will compensate for the thin flavour. Not suitable for poaching, use large, slightly under-ripe pears such as Comice or Bartlett types. Varieties with higher acidity, and a more astringent skin flavour often have the best flavour once cooked. I do grow a couple of varieties of 'culinary pear' just for the sake of having a full collection, but so far they have not yet produced fruit. My rationale is that a variety such as Catillac will keep longer than even the late desert varieties, and be ready around January.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Mea Culpa

I have a confession to make, I have ruined my crop of Conference/Concorde and Comice by leaving them on the tree far too late. All these varieties will fail to ripen properly if picked too late, softening from the core before the outer fruit ripens. I foolishly didn't document when I picked them but it was around the beginning of October; the ideal time would probably have been about a week earlier. I have just had to put nearly all in the 'green bag', all yellowing slightly but so rotten one's fingers almost go straight through. My poor excuse is that we didn't not have enough boxes to hand, and I hadn't had time organise the storage space in the outhouse as life has been chaotic of late.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Red Comice

Only a single fruit again this year, but the espalier is beginning to spur up nicely so maybe croppin will take of next year?