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Bradford Pears

"The best thing you can say about Bradford pears is they make good wine."

The Bradford pear, Pyrus calleryana "Bradford", is an ornamental tree not known for its fruit, which are cherry size at best. It has an upright structure that reaches a height of 30 feet, but it is a short lived tree when compared to the Pyrus pyrifolia, or Asian pear. The Bradford also suffers from a weak branch structure, and the upreaching branches tend to split away from the trunk in advanced years if debris is allowed to accumulate and rot in the joints. The Callery has more open branches and resists this tendency. Be that as it may be, the Bradford is popular in Texas and found throughout the state.

The fruit of the Bradford is cherry size or smaller, hard when greenish-grey and hard when ripe. Its skin tends to discolor slightly and it really is unsuitable for eating. However, it can be used to make a fairly interesting wine. Because of its hardness, it is not juicy and sports an extremely high skin to pulp ratio. I used to chop them, but after a particularly bitter batch I realized I was cutting too many seeds. After that, I simply crushed them enough to break the pulp, froze them for a couple of weeks, defrosted them to release some of the juice, soaked them overnight in just enough water to cover with pectic enzyme added and then finish making the must and let the yeast do what they do best.


Wash, destem and lightly crush the pears, leaving peeling and seeds intact. Bag and freeze for at least two weeks but not much longer. Defrost enough to pour into nylon straining bag and then allow to thaw out completely in primary. Add two quarts water, stir in pectic enzyme and leave overnight. Dissolve sugar in remaining water (3 pints) and add lemon juice and yeast nutrient. Add to primary and then add activated wine yeast in a starter solution. Cover primary and squeeze bag 2-3 times daily for 7-10 days until vigorous ferment subsides. Drip-drain bag of pears and discard. Transfer liquid to secondary with a finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet and attach fermentation trap. Rack after a month and then rack every 2 months until clear and not dropping any more sediment. Bottle when clear. If too dry, stabilize and sweeten to taste. Wait 30 days. If any sign of fermentation, wait for wine to go still and adjust sweetness. Wait additional 30 days, rack and bottle. Taste after 3 months, but allow a 9-12 months for best body and flavor. This wine may be spiced during primary fermentation with two 3-inch cinnamon sticks and 15-20 cloves in a spice bag. These are removed before transfer to secondaryt. The spiced wine is a very nice treat during the Christmas holidays the following year. [Author's own recipe]

Last update was October 22nd, 2007.

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