What to do with all these pears … Make a Perry (and some preserves)!

We have a pear tree. No idea what variety, but they are hard pears and were turning yellow and rotting in the center so we decided they were ripe enough to harvest. We ended up with about 35 lbs. of pears. I did some searching online and I think we have Green Anjou, but we can’t really be certain.
My wife, Stacie, picked the really nice looking ones and is packing them in saw dust to soften so she can eat them (pears are her favorite fruit). I took the middle of the crop and made pear preserves with a very light syrup. This was challenging as there were lots of bad spots that were found once I pealed the pears so some of the medium sized pears were the size of walnut halves once peeled, cored, and the bad spots cut off.
I took the remainder of the pears and made a pear wine, which even though it’s technically not a Perry, (which is either a pear mead or a sparkling pear fermented pear juice and mine (recipe below) has a lot of added water and table sugar), I’m going to call it that as it has a nice ring to it.
I’ll probably end up carbonating some of the product and adding some lactose, maltose, or malto-dextrin or other non-fermentable sugar (or I could just use a stabilizer to kill all the yeastie beasties and then use more table sugar).
Here’s my process and a bit of my history as a home brewer. I used to brew, and brew a lot. I was making about two batches a month a few years ago.  I quit brewing as we were moving across country once a year for three years and I just never got where I wanted to set up all my supplies and brew. We recently landed in Knoxville where we will be for at least 3 if not 5 years. Therefore, I’ve decided to get back into the hobby. I will work my way into it and start with an extract and grains brew or two to get used to brewing and getting my setup all organized before jumping back into all grain.
The pears got me energized. I went to Allen Biermakens, my LHBS (Local Home Brew Store), purchased a new plastic fermenter (7 gal. food grade plastic bucket with lid) as the buckets I had carted around the country for years were in pretty bad shape and since I wasn’t boiling, I didn’t want to take the chance on making pear vinegar. I also picked up some wine yeast (Lalvin K1-V1116), some acid blend, yeast nutrient, some peptic enzyme, campden tablets, a large nylon straining bag, and an airlock.
The recipe I loosely followed is from the Winemaker’s Recipe Handbook, but I took about 20 lbs. of the smallest and hardest pears and sliced them thin with the skin on, cutting out the cores and any bad spots that I came across (much easier than peeling first). I put the slices into a large bucket which had water and a campden tablet tossed in. When I had cut all the pears,  I ran them through a meat grinder into a nylon straining bag suspended over my fermenter (I had already put three crushed campden tablets in the bottom of the frementer) . I ended up with a full bag of pear mush and about a gallon of pear juice. To the juice I added 12 cups of sugar, 9 quarts of water, the acid blend, the yeast nutrient, and the peptic enzyme. I stirred until the sugar was mostly dissolved and then placed the nylon bag of mush in the fermenter.  I let this sit for 24 hours, stirred again and pitched the yeast.  Within 24 hours, I had a very active fermentation and it’s still bubbling along (3 days later).
I’ll pull the bag of mush out after a week and rack after another week to a secondary.  I may have to rack an additional time or two to get the clarity I want.  I’ll post pictures once I have something good to look at (can’t see much now but a bubbling air lock on the top of a plastic bucket).
Here’s the recipe I followed (this recipe is for 1 gallon, which I scaled up by a factor of 3)
Pear Wine / Perry

  • 4 lbs Pears
  • 6 pts Water
  • 4 cups Sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp Acid Blend
  • 1/2 tsp Peptic Enzyme (read the label on what you buy as I ended up using 5 drops for the equivalent of 1/2 tsp (I used 15 drops total))
  • 1 tsp Nutrient
  • 1 Campden Tablet
  • Wine Yeast

The process in the book is very detailed and could easily be followed by a beginner.
For the pear preserves, I simply peeled and cored pears until I had enough for very full (heaping) 4 quart saucepan.  While I peeled and cut, I placed the halves or slices (depending on what was left after cutting out the bad spots) into a citric acid solution (2 Tbs citric acid (available at any store that sells canned good … even Wal-mart) to a quart of water) to prevent browning and keep the fruit firm.
Once I had all the pears I needed, I drained them well and put them in a 4 quart saucepan and added water to about 1/2 way up the side (the pears contribute a lot of juice, if you fill the saucepan with too much water you will have a too much juice) and 3/4 cup of sugar (I didn’t want them swimming in super sweet syrup). Alternatives to the sugar would be to use white grape juice or apple juice in place of the water and sugar.  I heated this to boiling an let it boil for 5 minutes.
I had previously filled my canner (just a large enamled pot as I don’t have a pressure canner (yet)), placed my pint jars in the canner and had it at a rolling boil. Using my bottle grabber, I got a hot jar from the bath, filled it to within 1/2″ of the top, put a lid and screwed on the band and returned to the canner.  Once I had all 10 pints back in the canner I returned it to a rolling boil and processed for 20 minutes.
Below is a picture of my finished product. Once we finish eating the ripe pears, I’m sure these will be delicious.


3 thoughts on “What to do with all these pears … Make a Perry (and some preserves)!”

  1. An update on the Perry. I let fruit sit in fermenter for a 9 days during which I only stirred once. I removed fruit and squeezed the juice out of the fruit and left must in the primary fermenter for another 7 days after which I racked it to a secondary (5 gal glass carboy). I didn’t have an original gravity reading, but when racking to secondary it was 1.002, with a great pear nose, and a tart pear flavor and finish. It’s been in the secondary over a week with some airlock activity, but little to no clearing. I’ll post in a few weeks if there is a change.

  2. It’s been in the secondary for about 15 days and is starting to clear nicely. I think I’ll let it sit for about 30 days before racking to a tertiary for final clearing and bulk aging. Based upon clearing to date, I don’t think I’ll have to use any finings.

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