If you like to forage for wild food than the wild pear tree is great. And if you are a pear lover than it becomes a real bonus to know where these treasured trees are so pure that you can check them out each fall.
The trees, and especially the fruit in most cases, are not beautiful sights. They are definitely not like the pears you find at your local fruit stand or the grocery store. However, the taste is what we are after when foraging. And these wild pears are not lacking in that quality.
Native regions of wild pears are Europe, Southern Europe, and Southeastern Europe, which is why Albania does not lack in this old tree. Wild pear trees are abundant in the region of Korça and Pogradec.
The autumn foliage is orange and gold and if you are clipping these plants as a hedge, the leaves will stay on the branches for some time. Although it isn't truly thorny, its short twigs have pointed ends.
These are wild trees from “pears gone wild” that we find thriving around fencerows, yard edges, in the prairies surrounding forests. Their rootstocks were so common to the landscape back when folks were more into growing and preserving fruits for jellies, preserves, and drink.
The edible fruit produced in autumn is usually sweet and quite delicious but because it is a wild tree, so the fruit will vary. If fruit aren't sweet when fresh use them for jam.
These “wild” pears were left to fend for themselves and Mother Nature has since taken care of these trees and protected them from disease and insects.
Although these don’t taste as good as a grafted pear chosen specifically for fresh eating, they don’t require nearly as much maintenance or special attention and usually birds and squirrels readily gobble them up.
Wild pears are usually harder than a witch’s heart so they will need to be cooked to softness to be a treat.
Foraging wild edibles by itself is one fun aspect. Doing it with family and friends, whether in the field or forest, or in the kitchen for final preparation, adds to that enjoyment.
The fact that the fruit is free is also great. Getting something for nothing appeals to almost everyone and knowing that makes the product you prepared even more satisfying.
How to cook to perfection
After they are all peeled put them in a pot and wash them real good. After washing it's time to quarter the pears. Although it seems straightforward, the quartering, it's pretty important.
It's a good idea to make sure that the quartered pieces are pretty close to the same size so that when the simmering is done all the quartered pieces get done to about the same consistency. Then it's time to remove the cores and seeds.
After each pear is quartered and cored drop the pieces into a pot of clean water that has some lemon juice in it to keep the color fresh. Then it's time to simmer.
Adjust the water level in the pot so that it just covers all the pieces.
Add sugar to the pot to help in the syrup preparation after the pears are done simmering. You want to simmer these nice and slow. No boiling, just hot enough that you can see that the water is bubbling in little frothy bubbles.
Keep this simmer going until you can stick a knife blade into the pear quarter easily. You will want to have syrup to put the pear pieces into so the liquid in the pot you simmered them in will now be boiled down to reduce the liquid to a syrup consistency.
A slow and steady boil will reduce it pretty quickly. Keep checking the consistency and the sweetness until you get it just as you want it. Add the syrup to the bowls/containers of pear quarters and sprinkle a little cinnamon on top.
Put on the lids and let cool in refrigerator. They are great in cereal, a stand-alone snack or as an after supper desert./AgroWeb.org