I’m not sure why I buy apples by the bag because I always end up with 2 or 3 that lay around in the fridge for a month or two ending up wrinkly. Once I wrote about making an apple cake from some not so good looking ones that turned out pretty delicious. Yesterday with 2 old apples I mused about what to do with them, throw out or cook. I ended up peeling and dicing and cooking as though for apple pie filling and they turned out fine. Tasty on crackers.
This reminded me of something else I used to cook…sand pears. Personally, I haven’t known but one person who could eat a sand pear raw and of course that was a native Floridian. They are so hard they could pull out your teeth if you’re not careful. Beavers would probably love them. The only time I’ve seen them for sale was at a house near
Fairbanks off Waldo Road. Jim and I were looking for
muscadines, and the grape grower had a couple of pear trees in his back yard.
He happily sold us some.
But back to when I was cooking them. When I worked as a bookkeeper, my boss had several sand pear trees in his yard and he would bring me large paper bags of them as they fell to the ground. That was the only way to know they were ripe. He gave me his pear cooking recipe which was very simple. Peel, cut off thin slices, put in a microwaveable casserole, add a little water and cinnamon, and cook for however long it takes for them to soften. The time would vary from 12 minutes to 20 minutes and I think you could cook them forever and they would continue to remain crispy, with a somewhat sandy texture. You could add sugar and a little butter if you wanted to or Stevia or another sweetener after they had cooled. They were delicious on crackers, even better than the best apple you’ve ever eaten. And in pies or cobblers, delicious!
I tried to find some this past August but had no luck. Supermarkets wouldn’t dare sell them because folks would bring them back complaining about how they broke their teeth. I thought farmers’ markets would be a good place to try, but no luck there either. And they are the ugliest pear you’ve ever laid eyes on, a speckled light greenish-yellow and brown with the appearance of mildew all over. They’re more apple-shaped than pear-shaped but definitely a pear stem. The skin is very tough and they are difficult to peel, but to me the results are well worth the effort. I’ve never been strong enough to cut one in half.
I did some research and found that the proper name is Kieffer pear, a cross between a Japanese pear and a common pear. The first ones, my research said, were grown on the grounds of Andrew Jackson’s home near
Nashville. I think ours
have mutated a little because the pictures are not exactly the same as our Florida sand pear.
Sadly, my former boss’s land was sold and the pear trees were knocked down. His trees bloomed with tiny white flowers, and I have seen many similar trees blooming along roads in early spring. I wonder if they are sand pears? It would be nice to cook some again.