Happiness is 150 lbs. of pressed pears

One pear tree. A Saturday. 150 lbs. of pears. A rented press that has to go back Sunday.


Jodie and I had offered to help 2 friends press about 150 lbs. of pears from the tree in their yard. That’s right. 150 lbs. It’s a good year for tree fruit here in the Willamette Valley, and we were all determined not to let that pear goodness go to waste.

[Caption for the look-at-us-having-a-good-time-and-wow-that’s-a-lot-of-pears photo that isn’t here: I got so caught up in conversation and pear prepping, I completely forgot about bloggy things like taking pictures. But then again, many of my photos really really suck, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here’s a picture of a big sharp knife instead.]

From Saturday afternoon until the sun was just a pear gloop-colored memory, we selected, chopped, ground, pressed and milled pears. I spent most of the evening standing over the chopping table, a Global santoku my weapon of choice. Egads that’s an amazing knife—sharp, lightweight, beautifully balanced. I could’ve chopped another 100 lbs.

As for the pears themselves, once ground, pressed and milled (thanks to the folks at Falling Sky for the press rental), the lovely yellow fruits had many fates:

  • Perry (or pear cider)
  • Pear butter (lightly spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon)
  • Pear leather (remember Fruit Roll-ups from your childhood lunchbox? This is the homemade version)

Here’s the thing about spending a Saturday evening with friends, knives and heavy wood-and-metal fruit presses: the work, laughter and sensory experience of what you’re doing is beyond compare. We worked on the pears for hours (I spent much of it with my baby on my back), and hardly noticed the time or toil. We swapped stories and had discussions, and watched our respective babies eat watermelon and play together. The autumn sun didn’t bite with heat, it only gently warmed.

We worked and we shared time together, and while I’ve never ever done this much fruit chopping in my life, I can hardly wait to do it again.

Come on, next fall. Bring on more big fruit harvests!

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