Yes, you read the title correctly.
It’s tough to nail down the right ingredients for an infusion. You’ll see “orange” and “apple” very often, but that’s not very helpful. There are over 7,500 varieties of apples- and all of them taste different. Then put that with the different types of bourbon- which also taste different, and you’ve got too many combinations to list (and a raging headache).
Of course, the looking and experimentation is what makes it all fun in the first place. Wouldn’t life be so boring if everything was utterly predictable?
So, for the next experiment, why not go to…pears? I particularly love the mellow sweetness, with soft, grainy texture of the white (one thinks) flesh. They would probably make a very light, refreshing infusion; not quite as upfront as a citrus but with a soft and subtle fragrance.
And it so happens that pears are in season right now…with plenty of varieties to choose from, as you can see above. They don’t even look the same!
With such a challenge, there’s only one thing to do: have a tasting and selection for the next project.
I like to call it…the expeariment.
Blush pear– starting from the top left, a small green pear with a characteristic red shade as its name suggests. There’s really not much information about this that I could find, so my guess is that it’s a new variety or hybrid. It’s very crisp and sweet, but I found it cloyingly so. Not much of a pear taste here, and I won’t be using it for any infusion.
Bosc – a golden brown, thick-skinned pear that originates from France. It’s also known as the European or Kaiser(!) pear, but it’s oddly popular in the US. Despite its somewhat rugged and homely appearance, the taste was unbelievable. The cream coloured flesh had a bold honeyed flavour with just a hint of spice in it. Very tasty just to eat out of hand; I’m pretty sure that it will go equally well in an infusion
Red Anjou – distinctive red skin. Very large and juicy, with mild pear notes and moderate sweetness. I found it very pleasant to munch on, but compared to the Bosc, it was lacking in flavour- which is pretty much a fail in an infusion. Looks really pretty, though.
Abaté Fétel – a banana-shaped Italian pear with russet brown-over-green skin. Named after the abbot who first cultivated it in the 1400s, it has presumably been popular ever since, and I can see why. I picked ripe ones with soft, pale white flesh. Very rich honeyed notes and a pronounced pear flavour that I think can lend such a great flavour to an infusion. Somewhat less sweet than the Bosc, which might actually make it more interesting.
Even after some pretty intense testing (I must have eaten about 8 pears in a sitting), I still couldn’t decide on which pear to use…so I figured, why not do more than one? I elected to use the most interesting, the Bosc and Abaté, in two different infusions which you will hear about in a month or so.
While I’m quite sick of eating pears right now, I’m sure that I’ll be pretty happy to just lap up the new brews. Stay tuned.