Here's what happened: My Iowa cousin, Pauline, and her husband stopped by to pick up my mom's old hope chest. They were on their way to join another cousin and her husband for a trip to the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in south Missouri, and had no intention of staying long. Marvin and Cliff headed to the shop, and Pauline and I were chatting here at the house when somehow the pear trees next door entered the conversation. Pauline mentioned that they didn't have any fruit this year because of an untimely freeze, and I said, "You should stop by on your way home and get some pears."
She didn't think they would have time, since they have to be back home for a wedding on Saturday.
"Hey, why don't you and I just go pick pears while we are visiting? I'm sure we can get a bushel or so in about ten minutes."
Pauline cans, pickles, and freezes more food than you can imagine. Cliff is still talking about all the lovely jars of garden produce in their basement. I do wish I had gone downstairs with him when we were there, so I could have shared a picture with my readers.
So it didn't take much to convince her, and the two of us got a lot of pears for them to take home. While we were standing on the ground picking from the lower limbs, I glanced up and realized the biggest pears were on the upper branches.
The bigger the fruit, the less peeling and coring. It might not hurt to can just a few jars of pears, I thought.
So after they left, as we were on our daily walk, I told Cliff my plan. All I needed was a ladder, and I could go after those bigger pears. I just wanted him to carry the ladder over there.
He went above and beyond the call of duty; he helped me pick pears, and we came home with almost a bushel.
I spent the next hour-and-a-half peeling and coring and got what looked like a gallon of pears, ready for canning. Because these pears were hard, they needed to be boiled for five minutes in a light syrup (one cup sugar to three cups water). Trouble is, you have to guess at how much syrup you're going to need.
As for the sweet potatoes, a Facebook friend told me her grandmother used to store sweet potatoes on the back porch buried in a tub full of sand. "Didn't they freeze?" I asked her.
She didn't think so. Cliff has a good supply of sand he uses for sand-blasting, and he agreed to share some with me.
So once I get all the gigantic sweet potatoes in the freezer, I'm going to experiment with the more normal-sized ones, keeping them in sand on the back porch. Let's face it, I have plenty to experiment with this year.