Thursday, November 6, 2014

Autumn Foliage Envy and Pear and Sugar Jam

Did you guys notice how spectacular the sugar maples were this year?  I don't know why they were particularly colorful this fall.  Maybe because unlike the last few years we had enough rain that all the leaves didn't just shrivel up and drop off.  What ever the reason, there are many trees that I drive past every day and never noticed before, but the last few weeks they almost take my breath away with their awesome color!

Is it weird to stand in a strangers yard and take photos of their leaves?  Would it be weird to come back to a strangers yard in the spring and steal seeds from their tree?   

The big tree in my front yard is a silver maple, not a sugar maple.  Even though it makes me feel disloyal, each fall I secretly wish my silver maple, which normally celebrates the end of the summer by turning a dirty brown color, was a golden sugar maple instead (shhh... don't tell). This year though, all my shrubs and trees, including the big silver maple, put on their best show ever, so I had very little fall foliage envy.  My little dogwoods turned bright red, for the first time ever.  I've never had my very own red tree before.

Puck and I frequently admire the fallen yellow and orange silver maple leaves and the way they match his fur.  He looks pretty good in yellow.  

Jamie and I are still working to process all the pears I brought home from the tree at the farm.  While Jamie sliced the pears using one of those apple corer slicer dealy-o's, which cuts an apple or a pear in eight chunks and removed the core, I created my first pear crumble.  I filled the dish with big pear chunks, peel and all, spread old fashioned oats on the top, drizzled on sorghum molasses, and then sprinkled flour and butter that I mixed in the food processor.  I added more drizzles of sorghum, and more butter and baked it all in the oven.  We told our selves that this was health food, since it had home grown organic pears (plus the fibrous peel), fiber in the whole oats, local molasses, einkorn flour, and butter from grass fed cows.  All this healthy junk meant we could eat as much as we wanted, right?  I'm not sure how to justify the ice cream from the gas station that we piled on top though.  

With some of the other pear pieces, I simmered them on the stove until they were soft, and then squished them through my hand crank food mill, which removed the peels.  

In the end, I had over sixteen cups of pear sauce!  It was pretty good just plain, or with kiffer, but our ultimate goal was to make pear jam.  

I used the pectin that reacts with calcium water again, so I didn't have to use quite as much sugar as I used to.  Traditional jam recipes are normally half sugar, but this jam is one third sugar.  When I look at a jar of jam now, I imagine the line on the jar where the sugar would be if I removed the fruit.  No wonder jam is so tasty!  The few jams I made without much sugar at all were not big hits with Brandon, who is the primary jam eater and connoisseur, so I tried not to be so conservative with the sugar this time and remind myself that it's a spread, not a side dish. If we ever get better at getting honey from our bees, I would like to switch to honey in our jam instead of sugar.  

In the end, I have twenty-two jars of pear jam.  That's a lot of jam, and we still have more pears!  

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