Sourcing Pears for Making Pear Cider or Perry... for free.
I have always fancied making Pear Cider (or Perry). We've made Cider from Apples very successfully, but never tried pears. When we took on our allotment, the half plot next door had a tree groaning with pears which we gazed at, wistfully. When we had the chance to take that plot too, we grabbed it.
Typically of course, the pear tree hasn't produced any pear trees this year. So our plans for pear cider could have been thwarted. That's where Freegle and Freecycle come in. These are sites where people advertise items they no longer want and, if you are first (or they select you over others who request the items), you go and collect them for free, to avoid them going into landfill.
Over the years we have Freecycled everything from old fridges and sofas to broken china from our shop which someone had a use for - I think they were going to make a mosaic. Once we even Freegled an XBox Controller 'for parts' - the man who collected it got it working again for his nephew. Brilliant!
Finding Free Pears
So I had a thought. Many people have Pear Trees in their gardens. If someone had too many pears ripening at the same time, they might be willing to share some of them? Then we could have a go at making Pear Cider and, if it wasn't brilliant, it wouldn't be the end of the world because the Pears hadn't cost us anything.
So I placed a "wanted" advertisement on both sites. Two wonderful strangers donated their pears. One lent us his ladder and we picked them ourselves. The second had already picked them for us when we arrived. They are beautiful desert pears, succulent and delicious.
We couldn't believe these kind people were willing to simply give them to us. As they explained it: if nobody took them, they would just rot in the garden. So they were happy that someone could make use of them.
Then a friend in the village said that she too had a pear tree in her garden. They were small pears, hard and tart. She never really could do anything with them. We were welcome to those as well. Aren't people amazing?
Pressing the Pears
We started with the desert pears and I made the fatal mistake of trying the juice. Oh my goodness me. It is honestly the most beautiful juice I've ever tasted. Out of this world in fact.
Meanwhile, over this week we have also been reading up about making Pear Cider or Perry. Whilst the method is very similar to making cider as we thought, the consistent message is that desert pears don't make a great cider. Only Perry Pears do that. In order to create a more complex taste in your Perry Cider, you are advised to add tannins and other things to the juice. Otherwise you could end up with a very bland cider.
So we made a decision. We will make one demijohn of Perry Cider with the small, hard pears we were given (which we suspect are Perry Pears). But we can't bring ourselves to add chemicals to the most beautiful pear juice we've ever tasted, especially as we're being told it won't make great Pear Cider anyhow. So instead, we're going to bottle that, freeze a load of it and drink it through the winter.
By the end of this we will have pints and pints of delicious juice, and a demijohn of Pear Cider to test how we get on with it. And all for free.
Aren't people amazing?
More Almost Off Grid Favourites
A Beginner's Guide to Making Cider from Apples
Glass Demijohns and Where to Find Them
How to Build a Brick Herb Spiral