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Finding Free Pears- Bartlett

Bartlett Pear Tree Bartlett pear tree (photo by jhy)
You can always buy pears, but the point of this blog is to be able to find free food. You have a good chance of finding some abandoned pear tree in an old farmyard if you keep your eyes open.

There are several kinds of old fashioned pears that were often planted at homesteads, now called "heritage" varieties. In the northeastern US, the most common are Bartlett and Seckel. This post will talk about Bartletts. In Europe, these are called Williams pears. The Bartlett has a shape that has come to be the definition of pear-shaped. Not all pears actually have this shape, but this one does.

Look for small (15-20 feet) trees that don't spread out into much of a crown. You will see bright white blossoms in May. Pear twigs are very recognizable, looking stubby and awkward. I'll add a picture when the leaves are off the trees. They were often planted in pairs for cross-pollination.

Bartlett Pears Bartlett pears (photo by jhy)
The fruits grow along the branches, and will be ready to harvest in early September. Each pear is 3-5 inches in length and about 2- 2.5 inches in diameter. Harvest before the first frost.

Bartlett Pears should be harvested while still green. I shake the trees every day and pick up the ones that have fallen. That way, I'm not breaking off a lot of twigs. Then allow them to ripen after picking. You may read that they are ripe when they are yellow, but if you wait to use them till they are yellow, they will be pretty much over-ripe. There is a window of about one day when they are greenish-yellow, and still somewhat firm, but soft when you cut into them. This is perfect for canning, drying, or even eating.


Ann said...

I have a pear tree in my back yard. It produces the worst tasting pears I've ever had.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

I wonder what kind they are!

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