Growing trees in New Mexico isn’t easy. So cutting down a Bradford pear in the desert because it is a problem in far-away lush climates isn’t going to solve the invasive species issues associated with the tree. Yes, there are negatives to this tree and I wouldn't plant it again. On the plus side, Bradford pear trees offer a profusion of pretty white flowers in the spring. By early summer, the flowers become attractive 3/8” greenish, round “pears” or berries. By late summer, the pears turn an olive-brown. In winter, the berries freeze then soften when they thaw and provide food for birds. Alas, in late fall through winter, they fall on the ground, stick to shoes, and find their way all over the house; nothing is perfect.
To better appreciate the berry bounty, I’m examining clusters of the now greenish micro-pears. They look like tiny premature caper berries. Which begs the question: could these abundant berries, when brown and “ripe” be used as a locally abundant substitute for capers? Like apples and pears, the seed can produce cyanide in the gut. But in condiment-quantities, this does not seem to be a problem. Never-the-less, cutting the berries into quarters with a paring knife makes it simple to pluck out the pits with a thumb nail. Preparing a 1/2 cup of quarter inch Bradford pear caper-sized wedges, takes 10 minutes tops.
July is too early to experiment with my unripe berries but I’d like to prepare for the fall “harvest” and gather some recipe ideas from preservation experts here on permies. The taste when ripe is tart, slightly sweet and floral. Any suggestions or recipes that might help me make the Bradford pear bounty into something that tastes like a salted or brined caper? I'd be grateful for any help developing a recipe.
Sometimes the best thing about posting a question is that a brilliant post comes up as "similar thread." In this case, I learned from Rebecca Norman's amazing thread about actual caper plants (Capparis spinosa), caper buds, caper berries, caper recipes and so much more! Here's the LINK. I'll use Rebecca's caper-processing recipes in my first attempts to work with the Bradford mini-pears. Updates will come later in the season when I can work with the fruits.
Thank you Casie! Yes, chutney is wonderful. I use my normal-sized pears for the chunky chutney texture. The tiny Bradford pear berries are possibly good for a strained juice replacement for a liquid ferment like vinegar, which is a necessary ingredient in chutney and could work very well.
For this project, however, I'm matching the little shape and texture. Then I'll fiddle with the flavor to turn it into something with a salt-mustard-floral kick.
Thanks again for your input Casie.
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