Posted by: ithacaisdoomed | January 28, 2010

“Poached” Pears

It’s Midwinter here in Ithaca and every day looks like a film set from The Road, the skies more gray than gray and a layer of scummy, rubble -crusted snow everywhere.  The news of the world is increasingly bleak.  It is a time of waiting, for the return of the sun, for the first green shoots of spring–or economic recovery.  In a not-too-distant, post-Peak future, two weary travelers scour the ground for signs of life.  On finding the rising green of a nettle plant, one turns to the other and says, “Look! Green shoots, heh heh” and another phrase of Orwellian double speak takes on a new, ironic meaning.  With all these winter doldrums, it feels like time for another


“Let free fruit fall edition”:  My job takes me all around the county where I live.  One thing I do to both amuse myself and train my mind, is to be vigilantly aware of the plants growing at the different places I travel.  I’m always on the lookout for anything edible or otherwise useful growing in some neglected corner of Ithaca.  These are the traits of the successful “freedom forager” and it was by this awareness that I located the productive, yet utterly unnoticed pear tree that provided me with the free fodder to construct this delicious Pear Pepper Salsa.

Pear Salsa on Potato Kale Enchiladas!

When we cracked open a jar last night and ate it on the Potato Kale Enchiladas, I could well remember the clandestine gathering in the early morning light of a September morn.  I even brought my pole picker with me so I could get up to those top branches.  The tree was positively laden with fruit, seemed like a Bartlett variety.  Now I can’t tell you where it is, because I’d have to kill you, but I will admonish all to be on the lookout for such delightful opportunities.  Who knows how many neglected fruit trees there are  in the cities and even in the office parks of suburbia, you know the ones, built right on top of an old farmstead.  I’m not advocating any outright theft, but I will say allowing perfectly good fruit to go to waste is “criminal.”  So do what you must.

Price of materials:  “Poached” pears, grew the peppers.  For the price of a little vinegar, sugar, and the gas to run the canner, I got 6 pints of pear salsa.  We also canned up six pints of sliced pears and ate who knows how many fresh.

Price of labor:  Needless to say, I  derive great pleasure in clandestine fruit gathering missions.  It helps to practice making yourself as unnoticeable to others as possible.  Or simply act like you belong there when you’re harvesting with a pole picker.  Practice.  If you don’t enjoy cooking and canning, then there’s no hope for ya.

Price of hearing my five year old beg me to open another can of those sliced pears for dessert:  Absolutely pricelesss!



  1. Hey —

    Yum! Good Stuff… another thing… when looking for foraging opportunities, getting onto your local freecycle group can be useful. Back in Chicago, every so often there would be an ad for “come pick X” I just ate my last jar of poached pears that I got off such an ad 🙂


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