For some reason, the apple trees never flourished. But the pear trees have produced fairly well throughout the years. Sometimes, the pears never make it to our table. In 2010, while I was waiting for the bumper crop of fruit to ripen, every single pear disappeared. I'm not sure whether it was varmints or people who helped themselves.
Every year in April as the trees bloom with buds, I wonder if we'll send up with fruit to eat. The challenge with pears is to know when to pick them. I Googled that, too, and found a publication from Oregon State University Extension. (I love Extension.)
"To tell if a pear is mature, a general rule of thumb is that, while still on the tree, most mature, ready to ripen pears will usually detach when "tilted" to a horizontal position from their usual vertical hanging position.
"Unlike apples, which are ready to eat from the day they are picked, pears must go through a series of changes before they can deliver their full splendor. Pears do not ripen on the tree to our liking. If allowed to tree-ripen, pears typically ripen from the inside out, so that the center is mushy by the time the outside flesh is ready."
David Sugar, Oregon State University
I guess we should have picked them all. The bandits returned and not a single pear remains. This time, Randy's detective skills have deduced that the thieves were squirrels. He watched a squirrel race across the road with a pear in his mouth. I'm not sure they will "save" like acorns.
Thankfully, we still have some to enjoy. This week, I tried a salad recipe using our homegrown pears. So, whether you have pear trees in your yard or whether you have to purchase them from the farmer's market or the produce aisle, we recommend this tasty salad! Enjoy!
Pear, Walnut & Gorgonzola Salad
Adapted from Lemon Tree Dwelling blog10 oz. mixed greens (I used romaine hearts)
1 large or two small pears, chopped
1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly roasted
2 tbsp. sunflower seeds
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
Combine salad ingredients in a large salad bowl. Combined dressing ingredients in a container with a lid. Shake well. Pour dressing over salad and toss. (FYI: I didn't use all the dressing for this amount of salad. Refrigerate the leftovers and use another day.)
Notes: There are some people in my family who find gorgonzola too strong. If I were making this salad for them, I would substitute feta. Another tasty substitute could be cubed sharp cheddar or white cheddar cheese.
The original recipe called for 1/2 cup diced red onion. I didn't have red onion on hand. If you like the "bite" of red onion, feel free to add it to the mix.