The orchard at Safe Haven Farm is an old place. I’m really not sure when the trees were originally planted, but most of them are very old.
When we first moved there, I wasn’t really even sure what to do with fruit trees. We don’t have very many, besides, but in the beginning of our life in the country, I didn’t have the first clue as to how to handle an orchard.
What’s in our orchard?
The old orchard has a couple of apricot trees, which make wonderful jam. And you don’t even need pectin. Just lots of apricots and lots of sugar and lots of cooking. Seriously. The best apricot jam you’ll ever eat.
There are also two mulberry trees, one regular and one white. The white mulberry is peculiar and doesn’t taste very good right off the tree. The regular mulberry in the orchard died years ago and recently resurrected, and it produces berries that are pretty much fantastic. You can eat them right off the tree and stain your fingers and clothes and face.
Then, originally, we also had a prickly pear cactus in the orchard. Now, how it got there, I don’t know. I think the folks who lived there before we did planted it. And I think we picked prickly pears off of it before, but we really didn’t know what to do with them. I think this was before we had internet, so we couldn’t really just look it up. Well, after a few accidental encounters with the mower, the cactus bit the dust.
The other fruit-bearing trees in the orchard are the pears.
The Wood Pears of Safe Haven Farm
We were told they’re called wood pears. I’m not sure if that’s the official name for them or not, but that’s what we call them. They grow to be rather large, and they’re very hard and fibrous. And, oh, I have so many pear stories. But probably the best one was our first year living there.
Mom wanted to do something with the pears because there were so many of them, and it seemed a shame to let them go to waste. So we gathered up as many as we could from the ground, but there were so many still high up in the tree. So Dad came up with a solution.
He backed our old truck into the orchard. My brother and I stood in the bed of the truck with our bushel baskets, and Dad climbed up into the pear tree and started shaking branches. Sounds like a good idea right? I thought it would work perfectly.
Well, it did work. Pears came loose.
Have you ever been hit on the head with a falling pear? How about on the back? The shoulder? The arm?
Yeah. I have. It’s not fun.
Those stinking pears left dents in the truck. I still remember running for cover when Dad started shaking the tree. I couldn’t stop laughing then, and it’s still funny now.
- Wait to gather them till they fall off the tree.
- Wrap them in newspaper and store them until the consistency of the gnats flying around was just right.
- Then, you could get a knife into them. So you peel them and try to get as much of the grainy parts cut out as possible.
- Boil them until they’re soft.
- Then, you break out the old Squeezo and turn the crank till your arm goes numb.
- Toss out the bad stuff and take the lovely pear puree and run it through a ricer (seriously, you burn so many calories processing wood pears).
- Then, the boiled, Squeezo’d, ricer’d puree is ready for you to do whatever you want with it.
You can put spices in it and make pear butter, which is like apple butter but with pears. You can make pear honey, which is an old recipe from our family that adds pineapple to the puree. Or you can put sugar and cinnamon in it and eat it like apple sauce.
If you’re ever around Safe Haven Farm when we’ve had a great pear harvest, stop in and try some on a slice of homemade bread!