I suggested that we buy a box of pears to dry during this stay at the farm. Mike asked why we didn’t just pick the pears from our own old tree. So, I didn’t buy a box of pears.
Instead, I arose on this smoky morning to refresh my memory on how to handle the pears. I found an online article through the extension service of Oregon State University. Pears don’t ripen on the tree, it said. Instead, you have to pick them at the right moment, and that’s when they snap off the tree when pulled horizontally. Then the pears must be placed in cold storage (30 degrees) for a day or two. After that they need four to five days at room temperature. Some people ripen the pears by placing them in brown paper bags with a ripe banana. I think there’s a lot of margin for error in this process. There’s something to be said for buying the box of pears, lovely fruit picked by experts who provided the right kind of cold storage.
But of course, picking from the old tree, the only remaining tree of a vintage orchard, appeals to the homesteader in us, so that’s what we did. I enlisted Mike’s services to climb the ladder and pick the fruit off the higher branches, which he agreed to do after target practice.
Many of the pears were just out of reach, so Mike sent me to the woodshed to get his snake tongs. That worked well as far as reaching and picking the fruit.
The only cold storage available is the refrigerator, already loaded with our food. However, I was able to clean out the bottom drawer and put most of the best pears there. The rest I had to stash here and there in the fridge with the exception of some culls that I put in the cooler with ice cubes.
We wonder if they picked pears back in the day. Pears won’t ripen without a spell in cold storage, so how did they manage that without refrigeration? Did they use the cellar? It wouldn’t have been 30 degrees unless they brought in some ice, and maybe they did.
If we were dependent upon my garden for sustenance, I’m afraid we would waste away. There’s always cake . . . KW