Last summer I got an urgent call from Molly McNeil, local produce, duck egg and yoga goddess, from Minnesota Peach Farm. “Hey, Tammy, want a case of pears? They’re about to go bad and I can’t move them. Maybe you can make cider with them or something.” I love this town. So I say “Yes, of course I want them! Come on over!” The case of Summercrisp Pears arrived on my porch, looking a little beat up, but smelling like a dream.
Summercrisps were developed at the University of Minnesota Fruit Breeding Program in the 1933s and is one of the hardiest pears around, doing well in zones 4-9. Many people planted these trees in their yards around Minneapolis, as they produce showy pink white blooms in spring, followed by red blushed fruit in late summer. The pears are sweet with crisp white flesh, lasting well in the fridge, but they become mealy and brown if they over-ripen.
As these pears were becoming mushy and possibly beginning to ferment, I decided against making cider, as I’d probably just end up with vinegar. Not a bad idea, but the aromatic sweetness of the pears demanded more. So in a fit of panic (inspiration?) I stuff a half gallon mason jar with halved pears, 1/2 cup of sugar and filled it with Prairie Vodka. Another good reason to have vodka laying around…
Fast forward to December. It’s 13 degrees out, lightly snowing, and I’m decanting the Summercrisp Pear Infused Vodka. As I unscrew the jar top, a puff of CO2 leaks out. This little baby has been fermenting. I strained out the pears and tossed them to the squirrels in the back yard, as they were to grainy to do much with. Happy squirrels. The resulting vodka has a pretty pink brown hue and tastes like pear heaven; sweet, floral and delicious. This vodka is sip-worthy, drunk straight from the bottle on a cold winter’s night. Or at 12noon. Where do you think that glass of vodka I photographed is going?