Back in late July or early August, I visited some friends who have a pear tree that they insisted was overloaded with fruit. I brought some buckets, laughing at the idea that we’d fill even one. My neighbor has a pear tree, after all, and it’s a squirrel salad bar for much of the summer. No fruit makes it to the ground unchewed.
We pulled 100 pounds of pears off that tree, which wasn’t close to what it had on it, under it, and all around it. Apparently raccoons have taken to spending their evenings in the higher branches, noisily munching away.
I turned this into to two batches. I juiced 45 pounds of fruit, added 4 pounds of white sugar, boiled to sanitize, then put it into a carboy with Montrachet wine yeast. That batch finished fermentation in under a week and is clearing in secondary. I’m hoping to put it in bottles early next year.
The second batch was 55# of fruit, 4# sugar, a one-hour boil, and Centennial hops thrown in… because I love Centennial. I pitched Safale-05 (I think) ale yeast and it fermented for a month or more. I was finally able to bottle the “pear beer” a little over a week ago, on September 6.
I tasted it on bottling day, and again last night. Verdict: The hops weren’t necessary, and are likely to make it unpalatable to a lot of cider fans who don’t care for beer. It’s an odd mixture of flavors – not bad, but not immediately delicious either.
So next summer, when we pull another 100# of fruit off of the pear tree (fingers crossed!), instead of hops, my pear cider will sit on cinnamon and clove for a while, and will be a delectable, gluten-free Christmas cider.