PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: It’s messy but it’s so very sweet

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

I don’t think I want to peel another hard pear for quite a few seasons. These are the same pears I so nostalgically recall from my childhood backyard in McComb. I liked to take a quilt out and lay it under our two tall pear trees, then read “Meet Me in St. Louis” or some other such childhood book way back in the day.
Even though those Pike County pears were green, or at least looked green, they were sweet and juicy.
That’s exactly what Kathy Parker brought last week, including her recipe for pear preserves.
I believe she may be a generous sadist, if you’ll allow such a phrase, especially when the pears were followed up by pounds and pounds of beautiful, purple muscadines.
What did I know about making jelly? Bupkis on Friday.
But by late Saturday, I felt like I could jelly a neighborhood dog, if he lingered in my yard a bit too long.
Wow, that was some experience.
For various reasons, I decided that using jelly-stiffener was not old-school enough for me. Darn it, I was going to make it the old-style cookbook ways, by cooking the sugar to 220 degrees.
And by gum, I did.
I’m not sure which was more labor intensive – the muscadines or the pears.
After I’d minimally pulsed the multiple batches of Mississippi grapes through my blender, then cooked them, they went through some mighty squeezing and squishing to get me to 10 cups of utterly gorgeous, sweet juice.
And what a massive mess I made in my kitchen! Purple juice was splashed up the wall and even on the curtain above the sink.
Then, I decided to tackle the pears.
With a large aluminum roaster pan in my lap, a big mixing bowl with lemoned water beside me and the TV on college football, I began the peeling process or what could be classified as torture in some societies.
My arms and fingers still ache, just thinking about it.
So, at the game’s half-time, I started the pear juice-making, with some self-imposed restraints upon the amount of sugar. This could take four to five hours, Kathy said in her instructions.
After about three hours, I couldn’t stand it any more and turned on the heat. After the appropriate passage of time, out came the food thermometer, and I agonized over how long it took to get from 214 to 220.
When that alarm went off, I was nearly beside myself with joy. The juice was all amber and yummy.
It all got spooned into my waiting jars.
In the end, I figure I ran the dishwasher at least three times Saturday, with all the pots and whatever.
Thanks to my trusty bleach, even that tell-tale purple stain seems to have vanished from my kitchen towels.
The happiness comes from knowing I’ve got all that lovely stuff just waiting in the refrigerator for company and friends.
And Kathy, sadist or not, thanks.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.