Pear Kvass: bubbly, light, perhaps the slightest bit alcoholic, totally refreshing– not perry, not pear juice, more like a “Pear Appletiser®”, with cheerful pro-biotic bacteria. Very natural tasting, not over-sweet but hits the spot that is delighted with sweetness.
As always, I’m motivated to use food that might be wasted and though I can intellectualise about embodied carbon, a distorted food system, social injustice and food access, for example, at the most basic level throwing out food offends some kind of innate frugality. I also have a kind of apocalypse mentality that makes me want to experiment when I’m presented with food breathing a last breath. I feel myself part of a movement that is exploring how to be creative and effective with gluts and waste.
So when given several kilo of pears that were unsellably bruised, browning and mushy, I could rise to the challenge. Remembering the crushed fresh apricots that became Apricot Nectar, in one version sweet and in another lightly fermenting, and knowing how utterly easy it is to make scrap vinegar should things go wrong, I wanted to do something with the pears in a similar vein. Pulpy and thick would mean nectar, strained would be something like a kvass, or so I decided.
- Mash your pears. Don’t worry about seeds, skin, stems– they will be strained out.
- Put in a large jar or crock, and cover with water. There aren’t rules. The less water, the more syrupy the consistency and stronger the flavour; the more water, the lighter.
- Add sugar or honey — the more sugar you add, the crazier the bubbles, it would seem. To my 12 or so pears I added just a large tablespoon of muscovado sugar, liking its caramel flavour.
- Stir everything and let it steep, lightly covered, for several days. Taste periodically. As you go the mass of pears will give itself up to the water, as I tried to describe when I wrote about Gooseberry Kvass.
- Strain out the pulp when it is flavourless, and bottle the kvass. For me this time it was Day 3.
- Close the bottles and in Day 4 or Day 5 you will have something very carbonated, perhaps explosively so– so be careful, My Friend!
Say you were to keep it open to the air. Because of the presence of sugars, you’d slowly develop an alcoholic ferment, which would eventually, if continually exposed to air, acidify with acetic acid bacteria, and you’d get vinegar thatwould become increasing strong with time. At any stage scrap vinegars are lovely to drink as well– like tonics. You can dilute them, or sweeten them, and use that sweet vinegary syrup as a kind of cordial to mix with water, sparkling or otherwise, for a drink lots of people are calling “shrub.”
All these distinctions, categories, specialties, codifications– I don’t really believe in them so much. I’m happy most of the time to get what I get– in this case, a light fruit beverage I think of as a Fruit Kvass. Something early and easy on the probiotic-beverage continuum, if that makes sense?
Drinking this Pear Kvass seems to bring on a nice mood pretty quickly. The bubbles are a little hot in the throat, which is great.
Make it your motto day and night.
And it will lead you to the light.
The apple on the top of the tree
Is never too high to achieve,
So take an example from Eve,
Though interfering friends may frown.
At each attempt to hold you down.
If this advice you always employ
The future can offer you infinite joy
And you’ll see”