Strained Relations

Apples and pears are like two siblings with nothing common. Oh sure they may have sprung from the same family, grown up in the same household, but when it comes to their disposition, passtimes and taste in friends, they couldn’t be more different.

Both the pear and the apple call the mountainous areas of modern-day Kazakhstan home. Both traveled the Silk Road west to Europe and east to China and Japan. Both are so-called pome fruits (members of the rose family along with quinces and Asian medlars and loquats). They’re climacteric and heterozygous (see The Great Apple Crap Shoot for more on that). Aside from that, though, they’re barely on speaking terms.

Where one is firm and crunchy, the other is soft and yielding. Where one is feisty, tart and working class, the other is juicy, buttery and sophisticated. Where one is at home in pie, the other luxuriates in tarts and alongside the finest chocolates, wines and cheeses. Where one makes hard cider, scrumpy and applejack, the other makes eau de vie de poire.

No, it seems there is no reconciling these two. Let’s just hope they at least call each other at Christmas.

21 thoughts on “Strained Relations”

  1. I don’t know…I’ve made a tasty pear, apple, and raisin pie or two…They get along on occasion;).

    1. Who knew? I haven’t been able to stomach scrumpy since a birthday I had in Devonshire. I drank about four pints of farm cider (the sort of stuff you literally pick up by the side of the road out in farm country and leave money in a tin cup). I swear my skin was actually green the net morning.


      – Joe

    2. I wish I could tell you what episode to watch but the Edwardian Farm team made some scrumpy. They also interviewed a local pub owner who explained why it isn’t generally offered — aside from those independent farmers Joe referenced. Apparently, some folks get more aggressive than green after a couple tankards.

      In any case, all of Edwardian Farm and all the rest of their living history series are worth watching in full. Seriously. They’re wonderful!

      PS They’re filmed at Morwhellam Quay in Devon. I wonder if Joe had his scrumpy where they learned to brew it…

      1. That’s over by Plymouth on the other side of Dartmoor from Exeter. Too far to go for scrumpy when you’re a student, especially when you could take just about any farm road and find some in the autumn. But I’ll have fun watching the show. Thanks, Rainey!

        – Joe

        1. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. Ruth even does some cooking with technologies ranging from Tudor times through the WW I era.

          Wish I could send you to a link for all of them but I’ve had to search each series down myself. Most of them are based on farm life but they also do one on the development of pharmacies in the Victorian age.

      2. Thanks Rainey. I enjoy those sorts of living history series, and I haven’t seen this one. I’ll check it out.

  2. We have two enormous apple trees, and one tiny pear tree in our back yard. Thus, I’ve been searching for something to do with our hundreds of fruit. Last time I made applesauce, I threw a couple of chopped pears into the mix, simply to get rid of them. I don’t know that I actually tasted a difference between that batch and an all-apple batch, but I’d say that was one situation that the two actually worked (perhaps because they were cooked and smooshed and essentially forced together.)

    1. I made an apple pear butter last year when I didn’t have enough of one to do a whole batch. Worked well. I agree the difference in flavor is subtle from a straight apple butter or pear butter. Texturally they are very different but I think they are interchangeable as long as the pears aren’t too ripe and soft. Apples that far gone are just icky. HAHA Pears I can deal with by pureeing them and using them in a sauce or cake for flavor without any notable texture from actual fruit. Been into making fruit curds in the Blendtec. Amazing. You can all but put the seeds in there. Everything gets liquified and cooked without egg bits because they can’t congeal in the blending while cooking. Best way I’ve ever found to make a curd!!

      1. Nice! Thanks for that, Linda! I’ll consider that when it comes time to make apple butter this year!


        – Joe

        1. I think you get a little more complexity to the apple butter to add some pears for another layer of flavor. Even with the spices you can get a sense of something else in there. 🙂 I love to make that stuff and have those great smells hanging around the house. Made an amazing spiced pear cake that made me totally want to do fall baking.

  3. What is surprisingly good is rhubarb pear pie, thickened with a little instant tapioca and pointed up with diced crystallized ginger and a touch of cinnamon. Better texture than strawberry-rhubarb, and a lovely pink color!
    I also put up jars of apple-pear pie filling every fall, either maple or ginger.

  4. I’ve kept my apples separated from my pears. Maybe I’m afraid the pears will be overpowered by the apples.

    Pears, poached and served in a very light syrup, with a drizzle of Cointreau.

    Pear mince pie.

    Steamed pear pudding.

    Homemade apple butter. Beats storebought every time. (And you can roast the apples.)

    Apple skarlotka, or other cake crammed with apples. Use a variety of apples: much more interesting in terms of texture and flavour.

    I live just on the edge of a major apple-producing area in Ontario Canada, so I can easily get a nice assortment of fresh apples. It’s a nice time of year. 🙂

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