October 26th, 2015
Episode 567 of 640 episodes
For many of us, a disappointing experience with an unripe or tasteless pear has coloured our opinion of what was once thought of as a superior fruit: "gold to the apple's silver". Sheila Dillon travels to Kent to meet Dr Joan Morgan, who is just publishing 'The Book of Pears - The Definitive History and Guide to over 500 Varieties', the product of years of research into and fascination with this fruit and all its manifestations. Joan shows Sheila the pear orchard at the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, one of the biggest fruit collections in the world, revealing the secrets of this unique collection - some 500 varieties of pear growing in one place. Domestic production is falling, imports are rising, and just one variety of pear, the conference, dominates the UK market. The once-prized varieties of cooking pear have been almost completely forgtten. Sheila invites cook and writer Nigel Slater to share his passion for what this fruit can do and how to look after it, and visits fruit farmer Clive Baxter who has invested in new technologies around storing and ripening. Dan Saladino tracks down the Gloucestershire-based distiller and cheesemaker Charles Martell, who has become enchanted by the intricacies and joys of the perry pear and the drinks it can make. As Sheila discovers, some people are working hard to restore a sense of enthusiasm around this ancient fruit, its flavours and its possibilities. Presenter: Sheila Dillon Producer: Rich Ward.