Archive for the ‘Harvesting Fruit’ Category


Vegan Apple Pie

IMG_0119My fiancé, Andrew, has been making this pie for years.  On our first date, we wandered a farmer’s market, where he picked out some green apples.  On our second date, he made a version of this pie recipe for me.  It has become my favorite apple pie recipe – its quick and tasty, and has never failed. The sour cream gives the filling a unique creaminess. Below, we’ve modified the recipe to make it vegan by replacing the egg with pear purée and the sour cream with Tofutti. We used a combination of Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Newton Pippin apples for this year’s pie (pictured here).  It is delicious!


  • 1 cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 pears, cored and cubed, then puréed
  • 3 cups peeled, sliced tart apples (about 1 1/4 pounds of slices)
  • 9″ unbaked pie shell, frozen OR your favorite pie crust recipe (here is mine)



  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place the pears in a blender or food processor to puree.  If the pears are not yet ripe, you can steam and soften the fruit in a small sauce pan or crock pot. You need about a fourth cup of purée for the next step. (The leftovers can be used to make pear butter).
  3. Beat together sour cream, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and pear puree (can beat by hand). Add apples, mixing carefully to coat well.
  4. Put filling into a pie shell and bake at 400 degrees initially for 25 min.
  5. Mix together all topping ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Cinnamon Crumb Topping. Bake for and additional 20 more minutes.

Let cool for a hour before serving. Serves 8. This recipe is inspired by Simply Recipes’ Sour Cream Apple Pie.

Kate is the executive director of City Fruit.  


Giving Fruit to Youth in our Communities

High Point HEalthy Families Celebration

These past couple of weeks have been very exciting for me as I’ve been able to expose City Fruit to two neighborhood Back to School events and provide fruit to them as well! A large part of why I do the work I do is because I care deeply about culturally appropriate, healthy food access for all people regardless of where they live, what they do, or how much money they make. As a person who grew up in a working class family and who had to trek nearly thirty minutes to a single farmers market outside of my community, I’ve made it a part of my life’s goal to increase accessibility of affordable (or in City Fruit’s case, free!) fresh food.

The first event — High Point Healthy Families Celebration —  was held at Neighborhood House in West Seattle, one of the first neighborhoods in Seattle where City Fruit still harvests and donates fruit. The community event was hustling and bustling with other awesome organizations who have a presence in West Seattle. Besides for awesome City Fruit gear giveaways, we were able to donate many crates of Italian plums to complement their free dinner!

Van Asselt Elementary School was the next Back to School festival we were able to partner with this year. We’re lucky enough to work in the same neighborhood of the school (Beacon Hill), so providing fresh fruit for them just made sense! Over 400 people attended the event and they were able to enjoy some tasty varieties of pears and plums. They also got some sweet bookmarks to start their school year off right! Our harvest coordinator Luke dropped off the bounty and was swarmed by a group of third graders who asked asked him how much money all of the fruit cost to buy in which he was able to explain City Fruit’s model. His response was shocking to the kids: “It was free! Thanks to the goodwill and generosity of folks in our community, MANY more people can enjoy fresh fruit!”

Support City Fruit today by getting involved as a volunteer harvester to get more fruit to families in need. You can also join us by taking care of the fruit trees in one of the public parks we steward to ensure pest free apples, plums, and pears!

Melanie is the Community Outreach Coordinator for City Fruit.


Meet our Harvest Team!

Meet photo-2City Fruit’s 2014 Harvest Team! From left, Dusty Towler, who will be focusing on the West Seattle; Luke Jesperson, our Harvest Coordinator, who is working in the neighborhoods of South Seattle, including Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Mount Baker, and Rainier Beach; and Hamilton Anderson, who will harvest in North Seattle, including the neighborhoods of Ballard, Phinney/Greenwood, and Wallingford.

The harvesters will be out in their areas each weekday starting around 8:30am and collecting fruit until the early afternoon.  From there, the fresh and nutritious fruit will be delivered to food banks and meal programs in the same neighborhood.

If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for our annual harvest, fill out our quick tree survey here.


The cherries are coming!

photo (1)In my opening New to Fruit Trees blog, I said I was disappointed not to find a single fruit tree in my yard after moving to Seattle from Washington, DC. Not so fast. Let’s call this my second #fruitfail.  Not one, or two, but five — I have five cherry trees in my yard.  Seattle is truly an urban orchard. (To be fair, at the time, no cherries were growing!)

For help identifying our trees, I was able to call on one of City Fruit’s many experts. Laila Suidan, a trained arborist, taught me about each type of tree (and plant) in our yard and provided instruction on care and maintenance. Among other things, she taught me that many fruit trees, including cherry trees, have identifying lenticels on their bark.

City Fruit will soon launch a set of residential services, including connection to experts that can help identify and assess your fruit trees and assist in tree care and management. If you’re interested, please email and we’ll send you more information. 

I’m looking forward to our first harvest of cherries this week! If you aren’t lucky enough to have cherry trees in your backyard, make sure to sign up for Collins Orchards CSA. Deliveries started June 25th, but you can sign-up at anytime.  The first few weeks of the CSA will include Early Robin Rainier cherries.


City Fruit members receive a 10% discount on the CSA! Join City Fruit Today — members may request the discount code by email.


Catherine Morrison is the executive director of City Fruit.  Follow her blog series and send your New to Fruit Tree questions to




Recipe: Crab Apple Pie

Do you have a crab apple tree that is bursting with fruit but you don’t know what to do with it? There aren’t that many crab apple recipes out there but this one, submitted to us by Tom Douglas Pastry Chef Stacy Fortner, sounds so delicious it makes me sad this unique fruit so often goes to waste.

crab apple pieIngredients (1 batch yield in 9″ pie)

Crab Apples 6 Cups

Sugar 7.5 oz

Flour 3 tsp

Salt 3 tiny pinches

Vanilla 1.5 tsp

Lemon Juice 1.5 tsp

Water 3 oz.

Butter, cold cubes 6 tsp


Crab apples should be cut ahead of time.

We cut the sides away from the pit like an olive.

Toss crab apples with dry ingredients.

Fill pie and pour liquid over.

Sprinkle with cold cubed butter.

Bake at 375 for the first 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake until the juices begin to bubble and crust is gold brown.


Recipe: Strawberry Pie Filling

Photo by Fried Dough on Flickr

Did you know that May is National Strawberry Month? To celebrate we’re posting Betsy Moyer’s delicious recipe for strawberry pie filling.


2  cups  ripe strawberries

1/2  cup  water

2/3  cup  sugar

2  tablespoons  cornstarch

1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice

6  cups  small ripe strawberries

1  cup  whipped cream



To prepare filling, mash 2 cups strawberries with a potato masher. Combine mashed strawberries and water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Press the strawberry mixture through a sieve into a bowl, and reserve 1 cup strawberry liquid (add enough water to measure 1 cup, if necessary). Compost pulp or use it for ice cream topping!

Combine 2/3 cup sugar and cornstarch in a pan; add strawberry liquid, stirring well with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice.

Arrange a layer of small strawberries, stem sides down, in the crust. Spoon about one-third of sauce over the strawberries. Arrange the remaining strawberries on top, and spoon the remaining sauce over the strawberries. Chill for at least 3 hours. Serve with whipped cream.


Mirabelle Tart, English Style

I found this great recipe by Rowley Leigh in the Financial Times of London for this Mirabelle Tart. Not only is it beautiful and delicious, but it will test your metric ability in the kitchen!










Mirabelle Tart
The pastry
100g unsalted butter
100g light brown caster sugar
1 egg
200g plain flour
Pinch of salt
• Cream the butter and sugar with the beater of a food mixer or in a bowl with a wooden spoon. When they are perfectly smooth, add the beaten egg and incorporate it into the mass to form a wet paste. Sieve the flour and salt and add to the mixture, folding it in very gently without over working the dough. Collect together and roll into a thick log about 12cm in diameter. Refrigerate.

Pastry cream
1 vanilla pod
500ml milk
6 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
75g flour
• Split the vanilla pod and put it in a saucepan with the milk and bring gently to the boil. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar very well until they are pale and increase a little in volume. Add the flour and mix to a smooth paste. Pour the boiling milk on to this mixture, whisk it well and return to the heat. Bring this gently back to the boil, stirring constantly and making sure none is catching on the sides or corners of the pan. Turn down the heat and continue stirring for 3-4 minutes. You should now have a thick, rich and lump- free custard. Pour into a bowl, sprinkle with icing sugar and then cover the surface with cling film (unless you have that strange but not unusual predilection for custard skin) and cool.
The tart
750g Mirabelles
1 tbs icing sugar
• Soften the pastry by hitting it vigorously with a rolling pin. Roll it out in a circle to a thickness of 3mm and, rolling it around the pin, lift it off the table and drop it into a tart ring 26cm in diameter. Make sure that there is no gap in the corners and that there is a 1cm overhang at the edge. Crimp the border gently over the rim of the ring, slide the tart case on to a metal baking sheet and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C. Dock the base of the tart shell with a fork and cook it in the oven for 15 minutes. While still soft, take a sharp knife and run it around the top edge of the tart and remove the overhanging pastry. Let the case cool down.
• Fill the cool tart case with the pastry cream. Lay the Mirabelles in tightly fitting concentric circles on top. Wrap a twist of foil in a ring to protect the exposed pastry, dust the Mirabelles with the icing sugar and return the tart to the oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.


Cherries are in full swing!

I went to the farmers’ market on Saturday and found cherries, cherries, & more cherries…all local! And local apricots! Here is a recipe combining both of these wonderful fruits.


Cherry Apricot Almond Tart

Buttery, crumbly tart crust
¼ cup toasted almonds
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1-⅓ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
¾ teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg + 1 yolk, beaten
3 tablespoons cold water
Pulse the almonds and sugar together in a food processor until finely ground. Add flours, butter and salt and process until consistency of wet sand. Add egg and as much water as needed, little by little, until dough comes together into a ball. Divide into two balls, flatten into 4-inch discs, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.
Makes 2 crusts
Preheat oven to 400 F.
1 disc of Buttery, Crumbly Tart Crust, chilled
¼ cup blanched almonds
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 large egg
½ cup creme fraiche
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 pound cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 pound apricots, halved and pitted
Roll out the pastry dough on a silicone mat or floured surface to a 13-inch circle. Spray a 10- or 11-inch tart pan with cooking spray and carefully lay the dough on top. Tuck it in to fit to the pan and trim the top, leaving a ¼ inch above the pan. Crimp edges along the ridges of the pan.
Spray a sheet of parchment paper with cooking spray and lay, spray side down, on the pastry shell. Fill with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 10 minutes. Remove beans or weights and paper, and let crust cool on a rack.
Pulse together almonds and ¼ cup sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add egg, creme fraiche and almond extract, and and run the processor until the mixture is smooth. Scoop mixture onto tart shell and spread evenly.
Arrange the halved cherries and apricots on top of the tart, cut side up. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar and bake 30-40 minutes, until filling is set.
Let cool and serve.
Serves 12


Michael Natkin Supports City Fruit!

herbivoracious .  Chef, blogger and author Michael Natkin writes:  “I don’t care if you are a vegetarian, omnivore, carnivore, vegan, pescetarian, or flexitarian! Labels don’t matter. If you want to eat a meatless meal tonight, I want to make sure it is hearty, beautiful, and absolutely delicious.”  I bought his cookbook – I couldn’t resist.  herbivoracious makes you want to rush into the kitchen and get started.  NPR and Amazon voted it one of the 10 best cookbooks in 2012.  Michael is supporting City Fruit by donating $5 to us for every cookbook he sells online.  Buy it here. 



To fabulous rhubarb, add strawberries….

My garden is still producing buckets of rhubarb for which I am grateful as we use it in sweet and savory ways. And now, the local strawberries are arriving! Here is a recipe I found on Food52 and it is easy and delicious.

Makes 5 cups
2 cups hulled strawberries, cut in half
3 cups roughly chopped rhubarb
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sweet vermouth
1 tablespoon basalmic vineagar
1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet or large cooking dish with parchment paper, this is a juicy dish and you don’t want the delicious juices running all over your oven.
2. In a large bowl mix the strawberries and rhubarb. In a small bowl whisk together the maple syrup, sweet vermouth, balsamic vinegar and salt. Pour this over the rhubarb and strawberries, gently tossing until coated. Spread the fruit out on the baking dish in a single layer, drizzling the juices over the fruit and slide into the oven.
3. Roast the fruit for about 40 minutes, the juices should be thick and the rhubarb tender to touch. Transfer to a bowl once out of the oven and still warm. Use immediately or store in the fridge for up to one week Serve spooned onto ice cream or a slice of sweet bread, a biscuit, oatmeal or french toast.


June Fruit Tree Tip: Thin Fruit Now

If you’re like us, you’re getting excited for the upcoming fruit harvest. I can’t help but continually check out our fruit trees to watch the progress of our fuit — apples, pears, plums all getting bigger. And by now, your apples and pears should be the size of a quarter (or larger), and hard as it is to contemplate, it’s time to ruthlessly remove much of the fruit (called ‘thinning’).

This activity helps the fruit tree focus its energy to a fewer number of fruit, making those fruit that are left larger and tastier. Would you rather have a lot of small, bland fruit or slightly fewer fruit that are of good size and taste? It’s not just about this year though — leaving fruit on the branch means that you get smaller fruit this year and less fruit next year. So thin your fruit now for both short-term and long-term benefits.

In this short video, Tom Thornton of Cloud Mountain Farm, shows how and tells why to do this.


Another wonderful way to use your rhubarb!

Our plants are more productive than ever….and am I glad! The New York Times’ Dining section had a great recipe for Rhubarb Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl.

Rhubarb Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl
1 hour 15 minutes plus chilling and freezing time
• 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
• 1 and 3/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
• Pinch fine sea salt
• 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
• 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
• 1 and 1/2 cups sour cream
• 3/4 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, whisk together the milk, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, vanilla bean seeds and its pod. Simmer gently until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and steep 30 minutes. Discard the vanilla pod and return mixture to a bare simmer.
Place the yolks in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in hot milk mixture. Scrape the custard back into the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Whisk in sour cream. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.
In a saucepan, combine the rhubarb with 1 cup sugar. Simmer until rhubarb is just tender and has begun releasing its juices, but has not started to fall apart, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to a bowl. Continue to simmer the juices until syrupy, 5 to 10 minutes more. Pour the syrup over the rhubarb. Cool completely.
In a clean, dry and preferably nonstick skillet, sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over medium heat. When it begins to melt and lightly color, sprinkle in 2 more tablespoons and start swirling pan to help evenly distribute sugar. Add the final 2 tablespoons and cook, swirling pan until all the sugar has melted. Let cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar syrup caramelizes and turns dark brown. Pour in the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons water (stand back; it may splatter). Simmer, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula until smooth. Cool completely.
Pour the custard base into an ice cream machine and churn. Add rhubarb compote for the last minute of churning.
Scrape a quarter of the caramel into the bottom of a freezer-proof quart container. Top with a quarter of the ice cream. Repeat layering until all of the caramel and ice cream has been used, ending with the ice cream. Freeze until firm for at least 2 hours and up to 1 week.
YIELD one scant quart


Mid-May report

The codling moth is starting to fly. If you have an apple tree consider using a solution that will attract and drown this pest at this time.
Also consider talking to your local nurseryman about getting a product that has either neem oil or kaolin clay or spinosad in it and how to apply one of these products  to protect your fruit.    I recommend getting  the spinosad product because if you have a plum tree then later this summer you may need it.
The apple maggot barriers can be applied when the apples reach the size of a marble. For most people this will be late May or early June.   There will be an early work party at the Good Shepherd Center on May 23rd from 5 to 8 pm. for those interested. Come and help protect some apples and see how it is done.

Address: 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North
We will be working on the Seattle Tilth lot and in the parking lot more to the south side of the building.


May Report / one starfish at a time

There is a story that I like about not saving the world but just one thing at a time. It is the starfish story. Please see if you can google the story or pick up a link such as this one below:

This is the way I feel about protecting things whether it be  one park, one tree, or even one apple. If I put a foot sock on that one  apple late this month or in early June I have made at least one apple more desireable.   I may not have changed the world, but for that apple I made a difference….and that is kind of the way life is.
(More to come in mid-May about timing, codling moth control, etc., etc.)


It’s Rhubarb Season!

My rhubarb plants are so productive already, I have plenty of stalks for crisps and sauces. See our recipe index for previous rhubarb recipes and here is one that is sure to please family and friends. I found it in the Williams Sonoma online recipe collection: a great go-to site if you are looking for new recipes.

Grilled Double-Cut Pork Chops with Rhubarb Mostarda

Pork marries well with many fruits, and in the spring, this rhubarb-mustard condiment, known as mostarda in Italy, makes a wonderful accompaniment. If possible, make the mostarda the day before, which will allow its complex flavors to meld. Purchase chops from the rib end for the most flavor. If you are cooking over charcoal, be sure to create a cooler area on the grill where you can finish cooking these big, thick chops.
For the rhubarb mostarda:
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
• 1 Tbs. peeled and minced fresh ginger
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tsp. ground cumin
• 1 1/2 lb. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
• 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
• 2 Tbs. dry mustard
• Freshly ground pepper, to taste

• 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
• 2 Tbs. olive oil
• 2 small garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
• Freshly ground pepper, to taste
• 4 double-cut pork chops, each about 1 lb. and 1 1/2 inches thick
• 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
To make the mostarda, in a large, heavy pot, combine the sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic and cumin. Place over low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Add the rhubarb and onion, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently to break up the rhubarb, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard, season with pepper and stir until smooth. Let cool completely. If desired, refrigerate overnight. Return the mostarda to room temperature before serving.

In a shallow nonreactive dish that will hold the pork chops in a single layer, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Whisk in the salt and pepper. Place the chops in the dish and brush both sides thoroughly with the lemon mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours, turning the chops occasionally.

Remove the chops from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Remove the chops from the marinade and pat dry. Reserve the marinade if using a charcoal grill.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill, or preheat a cast-iron grill pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat.

Place the chops on the grill rack over the hottest part of the fire or in the grill pan and cook without moving them for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Move the chops after 1 minute if the fire flares up. Turn the chops over and cook until they are golden brown and crusty, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes more. If using a charcoal grill, brush the chops occasionally with the reserved marinade. Move the chops to a cooler part of the grill or reduce the heat, and cook until the chops are firm to the touch but still have a little give, 10 to 12 minutes more.

Transfer the chops to a platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 3 to 4 minutes. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately with the mostarda. Serves 4.


April Report

An abnormally wet and cool March…..geesh !   Maybe if I post this on April 2nd (rather than April 1st) people will know I am not joking when I say the weather should improve.
Fruit trees need a decent Spring and Seattle hasn’t enjoyed any of those in the past few years…but there are “silver linings” behind these grayish  clouds. For one, pest populations have been retarded. Also, cold hardiness of the buds has been promoted. Further, delayed blossoming will help reduce the chances of any devastating freeze coming after blossom time.
Some plum trees have already blossomed. However most of the apple and pear trees I have observed are still in such pre-blossom stages as those called “green tip” or “tight cluster”. And thus, these trees  should do well the 2nd week of  April when we start to get some sun…and some blooms….and with temperatures near 60 degrees we might even dare hope for some bees as well.

On April 14th, from 12 noon to 3 p.m. the Piper’s Orchard will host a work party for those interested in hands-on learning on the subjects of hand pollination,  mating disruption of codling moth,  mason bee pollination and trichogramma wasps.
All are welcome…bring gloves and something to drink.


Cozy Food in Winter

Looking for a delicious recipe to serve friends and family at a winter brunch? Try this one out.

Spicy Ginger Muffins With Currants and Toasted Pecans

Butter for greasing muffin tin
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
5 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/4 cup dried currants
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk.
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil. Pour into a large bowl. Whisk in baking soda until dissolved. Whisk in molasses and oil until mixture is tepid. Whisk in eggs and 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, ground ginger, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry. Fold in 4 tablespoons crystallized ginger, then the pecans and currants. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
4. Meanwhile, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk and remaining 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger until mixture forms a smooth glaze. Spoon glaze evenly over muffins. Sprinkle tops with remaining 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger.


Pears for the Season

Nell’s restaurant recently shared the following recipe with their email list. It is the perfect treat at this time of year.

Red Wine & Star Anise Poached Pears
with Pear Ice Cream
. . .


6 Bosc or D’Anjou pears
3 cups full bodied red wine
1 cup sugar
5 pieces Star Anise
1 bay leaf
2 cloves

* Add wine, sugar and spices to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

* Peel pears and cut in half. With a melon baller, cut out pits and use knife to cut bottom and stem. Also with knife slice a bit off rounded side to flatten pear allowing it to sit in bowl.

* Add to simmering wine and cook till tender about 10 – 20 minutes depending upon how ripe pears are.

* Cool in liquid.
. . .

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 ¼ cup sugar
9 egg yolks
4 Bosc or D’Anjou pear, ripe
* Peel and core pears. Cut into pieces, add ½ cup sugar and 2 TBLS water and cook in covered sauce pan till tender

* Combine cream, milk and ¾ cup sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil

* Let cool for one minutes and add ¾ cup hot cream to egg yolks, stir and add back into sauce pan of cream. Depending upon temperature of cream, it may thicken or you may need to heat further stirring constantly till mixture coats the back of a spoon.

* Strain through a fine strainer and cool
* Puree pears, strain and add to custard
* Spin in ice cream machine

– Makes about 1 ½ quarts (12 or more servings) –
. . .

Serve pears in a bowl, drizzle with the red wine and a scoop of pear ice cream on top


December Report

As the City Fruit pointed out on their Facebook page, now is a good time to rake up the leaves under the apple and pear trees. Do this  if you had any evidence of apple or pear scab on your fruit. This scab is something that you would recognize if you saw it as it leaves blotches on the fruit. It may be said that this condition is unsightly but totally cosmetic only and not at all harmful to eat, nevertheless, if you wish to improve the appearance of your apples and pears, raking up the leaves now will reduce the chances of overwintering spores coming back to haunt you in the Spring. A suitable compost spread over the leaves in a suitable quantity is another alternative.

What I really want to talk about here is the weather, though. Ordinarily December is a good time in which one can prune your apple and pear trees, but the last couple years we have had a La Nina pattern with unusually cold and wet winters and that has made for a little caution.

The La Nina pattern is the single most dominant pattern affecting the Northwest weather. There are even some who believe the overall pattern has indeed been global warming the past few decades but that it is precisely the warmer temperatures East of the Cascades that is drawing air masses over the mountains in such a way as to produce cooler and wetter temperatures here West of the Cascades.

Whatever  the reason for the abysmal weather patterns we have had the past couple years, let’s hope we have a more congenial winter this year.  So far,  during this  Autumn of 2011,  there have not been any unusual weather patterns of concern and so it certainly looks as if it okay to begin pruning the apple and pear trees without risking any minor damages to the tree whatsoever. The trees should be sufficiently “hardened off”  now so that as they drop their leaves they have become ready to be pruned. Wait a month or two for the stone fruit trees, cherry and peach and plum, later until it is definitely clear that the harsh part of winter is over.


Mid-November Report

Believe it or not, actually Autumn is the best time not only to transplant but to plant. Here is what Larry Davis, a City Fruit supporter has written:

“As winter approaches, the temperature drops and most plants enter a period of dormancy. In a mild climate, like we have here in the Puget Sound region, many plants do not completely shut down, and still continue to grow slowly. For this reason, fall planting is recommended as well as spring planting in the region. Unlike in more severe regions, the transplanted tree can actually begin to establish its roots during the mild winter and be more prepared to make its start when the weather does warm up in the spring.”

City Fruit’s website has helpful information for many things, including how to plant fruit trees.

So,  consider getting a head start and putting in that fruit tree right now.  Ignore convention, thinking that you have to wait until next Spring and either look around now for that new tree you want or else transplant that wonderful little Honeycrisp tree that you have in a shady corner and give it a better start on your property where there is more sun.

Many nurseries prefer to sell their bare-root fruit trees in the Spring, but you might be able to find a discount somewhere on a potted tree that would be exactly what you are looking for.   Why not go for it?

(Side note:  Usually fully grown trees are not good candidates for transplanting…we are only talking about small trees that have not reached a height such as your height and the smaller the tree, the less the pain and the more likely the success of transplanting).