|Thought to be
descended from wild hybrids, or "wildings," perry pears are the fruit
of pear trees found primarily in the west of England.
Higher in tannin and acid than most eating or cooking pears,
perry pears are also generally smaller.
There were once over 100 varieties of perry pears in Gloucestershire
alone, with picturesque names like Red Huffcap, Merrylegs,
Mumblehead, Stinking Bishop, Hartpury Green, Bosbury Scarlet and
Sadly, many of these have become endangered or lost.
which is made from the pure juice of the perry pear, is one of
the oldest fermented drinks in Britain and the tree one of Britains
most venerable growths," writes John L. Jones in Crafts
From The Countryside.
Unlike apple cider, which is usually made from a mix of apple
varieties, vintage perry is made from the fruit of a single variety of
perry pear. The quality of perry, consequently is critically dependent
on the variety it is made from and the quality of soil in which the
trees are growing.
"The optimum stage for milling and pressing varies from variety to
variety and one of the reasons for the quality of some farmhouse perry
was, undoubtedly, that the farmer could get to know his individual
trees as well as he knew his cows. With this knowledge, he could mill
and press his pears when the fruit was 'vintage ripe,' a much more
limited period than that of cider apples which can hang about for
weeks. In this respect, farmhouse perry making, based on individually
known trees and varieties, was perhaps the nearest English equivalent
to the winemaking skills of France."
Perry pear trees often live to a great age with considerable height and
very large canopies. They can be fully productive for 250
"The perry pear is unique in its resistance to the trials with which
other fruit varieties are beset in old age. Those in Gloucestershire
span the generations like parish records, and there is no denying the
old saying that, 'he who planteth perry peats truly planeth for his
From The Countryside
with Apples and Pears to Eat and Drink
Practical Gardeners' Guide to Varieties, Husbandry, Harvesting, Storing
and Making Juices, Cyder and Perry