A co-worker's father has pear trees and a massive surplus of pears. Consequently, this week she brought in bag after bag of ripe pears and deposited them in the break room for all to take. This lead to me coming home with around 20 pounds of pears over the course of the week. This also lead to several massive batches of pear sauce. (You know, like applesauce, only with pears.)
One of the things I find interesting about pears is the texture. The slight graininess can be interesting in small doses and kind of unpleasant when they get more extreme. Today, I decided to look this up and learned about "stone cells". Stone cells are little clusters of dead cells with thick cell walls, and are pretty much the same sort of thing that makes up cherry pits and walnut shells.
Most of the articles I read on the topic mentioned that the stone cells were why pears are usually not allowed to ripen on the tree, as this keeps down the number of stone cells.
If you want to see some gorgeous, microscopic photos of these cells, look at this post on Beyond the Human Eye. Botanist Phil Gates has taken some great images with his microscope and a basic digital camera.
At this point, all of the pears have been processed into pear sauce. It was pretty easy, since the pears cut into sections quite nicely with an apple-corer. I didn't add anything to the sauce as it cooked, but I did let it boil down for quite a while. I also left the skins on (again, this made the prep super easy) and separated it out with my late grandmother's Foley mill, which is a bit of a wonder, and has saved me so very much time. (Thank you, Grandma.)
The kitchen smelled absolutely wonderful for a time. Currently, the bulk of it is hanging out in a series of cheerful canning jars, while the rest will likely go into the fridge, to be used quickly. Somehow, I'm not too worried about that. It is some tatsy business, as a friend of mine likes to say.