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WPA Mississippi Drinkways Part 3

WPA Mississippi Drinkways Part 3

 Pears and Pear Trees, 1939, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Pears and Pear Trees, 1939, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

This pear wine WPA story comes from Clarence Kerns of Dolph Port, Mississippi. I share it in a paraphrased format when necessary to make it legible and indirect quotes as often as possible. Though probably not legal under Mississippi’s rigid prohibition laws, Pear Wine is a common homemade beverage of real merit. Sand or pineapple pears are superior fruit for cooking, especially preserving like quinces, but are so plentiful that they frequently rot on the ground, fed to livestock, or sold for a as low as $.10 per bushel. Consequently, the homeowner usually figures the cost of his champagne like beverage at only $.12-$.15 per gallon, the price of the sugar needed for it.

Pear Wine Recipe

Juice may be obtained by grinding and pressing the rough fruit. The better way is to dice the fruit, including some of the peel, and stew it slowly in a limited amount of water until tender; squeeze out the juice using a strainer carefully; add 2 ½ to 3 pound sugar per gallon; put it in to narrow mouth containers of glass, stone, or wood; leave open for several days till fermentation is well started; cork (leaving vented for gases -- preferably rubber with an end immersed in water); store in dark place; cork tightly when vinous fermentation (bubbling) ceases (2 to 3 weeks). It is often advisable to drain from dregs and rebottle for aging.

Takeaway: Here's yet another example of how you can leverage a fruit tree that is producing a bumper crop. Say for example the trees not in your yard but someone in your neighborhood. You notice that the fruit is collecting on the ground and going to waste. Consider knocking on the door of that person's house at a reasonable time on a Saturday morning when more likely than not you'll find them at home. Asked them if you can collect the fruit to make preserves, dried fruit, juice, and/or wine from it with the commitment to equally share it with the owner of the tree. More than likely you're gonna make a new friend in both enjoy a great local product that you could sell at the farmers market near you. Just something to consider!

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WPA Mississippi Drinkways Part 2

WPA Mississippi Drinkways Part 2