This past weekend found me foraging in the forest stealing pears away from the bears. Not to worry, the bears have had a good summer and for the most part have their tummies full and are getting a little sleepy with the imminent approach of winter.
Yes, I know, you probably didn't want to hear it. Winter is on its way. In fact, the past two days have seen the peaks of the mountains glistening with that white stuff.
But back to those well-fed bears, they are drawn by the sweet smell of ripening fruit, but then usually after one or two bites leave the fruit to rot on the ground. I was simply rescuing what was left before the bears spoil any more.
I got the fruit from the back yard of a friend who's property backs up against what was once one of many orchards in this region. This region at one time boasted some of the best fruit in the province and probably the country. The cherries here were particularly prized until the trees were hit with a blight that devastated the industry. But that is another story entirely.
In any case, this old overgrown orchard backs up against the mountain and the forest providing easy access not just to the bears, but also deer. There aren't many trees left and they are old, but the fruit is still fabulously sweet. With much of it turning quickly...pears don't last for long once they start to ripen, I made pear winter jam. It's actually more like a pear butter. The warmth of the ginger does one good in the winter. The concoction is actually really good completely raw, but of course would not last for long, so most of it got cooked up and sealed in jars.
Ripe pears - 3 pounds, peeled and cored
Medium orange - 1 seeded
Medium lemon - 1 seeded
Crushed pineapple - 1 cup (canned in own juice)
Honey - 3/4 cup
Fresh ginger root - 1 inch, peeled and grated
Whole cloves - 6
Cinnamon sticks - 2, broken into 3 pieces
Salt - dash (optional)
Process fruit in food processor or blender. Place in a large pot, adding pineapple and juice. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until fruit is tender and mixture thick, stirring often. Skim and pour into hot, sterile pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch at top. Cap with hot, sterile lids. Process in boiling-water bath for 5 minutes after water returns to boil. If any jars fail to seal, refrigerate and use within ten days or freeze for later use.