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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.


The English language is a wonderful tool for communication, but one has to exercise extreme caution at times. For instance, the other day I proudly walked into my office with fine specimens of a delicious summer fruit. Being generous, kind-hearted, and possessing all the outstanding qualities which make horticulturists loved by all, I decided to present these beauties to one of the hard-working secretaries. I simply said, "How would you like to have a pear like this?" Simple and to the point! Yet, several red blushes and a slapped face later I realized that, in some way, I must have confused the issue with my statement. Alas, the sufferings of a horticulturist are never ending! Even when I described the procedure of peeling off the covering to joyfully suck the sweet flesh I was accused of perversion and sent to my office. Some folks have such sick minds!


One point of interest, especially to the novice fruit grower, is the realization that it doesn't take an exceptionally brilliant person to produce a decent crop of pears. In fact, once the proper variety is selected, a gardener can plant the tree and forget it. As my uncle used to theorize, the best way to make it grow is to plant the tree; then either forget it or try to kill it.

This seems rather harsh, but not far from the truth. If you are doubtful, check some of the old abandoned homesteads in Texas. The house may have fallen down, the people are long gone, but the pear tree is still growing strong. What is even more frustrating is the fact that the abandoned tree probably is producing better than the tree in your backyard which you are pampering. In fact I had a lady who grew up in Comanche county bring me some pears from her old home place. The tree is known to be over 100 years old, has had virtually no care and has a full crop of pears. Eddie Fanick of Fanick Nursery identified this variety as Garber. A selection of Garber called Monterrey which is more resistant to fireblight is still recommended for this area.

Pears have endured the best test available - the test of time. It originated in the Afghanistan-Russia-China area and is thought to have been used for food by Stone Age men. The Greeks improved pears which were referred to as "the gift of the gods." Pear seeds were sent to America in 1629, and they produced so abundantly that by 1771 one nursery listed 42 varieties.

Pears were very popular during colonial days because they will store so well. In fact, pears can and should be harvested before they fully ripen or become soft. As a rule, harvest generally should be done in September. Several criteria can be used to determine fruit maturity. These are firmness, color, and corking of lenticels. While few homeowners have pressure testers, a crude measure can be done by hand. When the fruit changes from the firmness of a baseball to the feel of a softball, it is close to maturity. The background color of a mature fruit will change from light green to a yellow color. Probably the easiest indicator of maturity are the fruit lenticels. These are small 'dots' or indentations on each fruit's skin. Lenticels on an immature pear are white; however, as cork cells develop the lenticels become brown and shallow. The brown color in the lenticels is a good indicator that the fruit is ready to be picked, and will ripen without shriveling. After harvest pears should be stored at room temperature until they soften. After softening they can be canned, eaten fresh or stored in the refrigerator until needed. Pears are best if picked when hard and ripened at 70 degrees F. until soft. The varieties Orient and Monterrey will require about a week. Kieffer pears should be individually wrapped in paper and held at room temperature for approximately 14 to 30 days for best flavor. Remove any rotted fruit if it occurs. If you plan to cook them make sure to use them while still firm. If you wonder why pears which look sound have become brown inside, it is because they have been held too long at a too-low temperature.


If you want to freeze some of your bountiful harvest just peel, cut in halves or quarters and remove cores. Heat pears for 1-2 minutes, depending on size of pieces, in boiling syrup made from 3 cups sugar to 4 cups water. Drain and cool. Treat for discoloration with ascorbic acid. Cover with cold syrup in which pears were heated. Seal and freeze immediately. Pear preserves are also a real delight.

With every delight comes a disaster. For the pear the disaster is fireblight, which is caused by bacteria. In late summer, the tree looks as if a portion or the whole tree has been scorched by fire -- hence, the name "fire blight." Fireblight is controlled somewhat by pruning off diseased parts or by spraying with copper sprays (Kocide 101) or streptomycin (Agri-Strep) at bloom time. But in reality it is best to select only pear varieties which are tolerant or resistant to fire blight damage, because the bacteria will eventually win on a susceptible variety.

The only -- and I emphasize only -- pear varieties recommended for planting in this area are (1) Warren, (2) Ayres, (3) Magness, (4) Garber, (5) Monterrey, (6) Fan-Stil, (7) LeConte, (8) Orient, and (9) Kieffer. The first three (1-3) have excellent dessert quality and are highly resistant to fireblight. The quality of the next four (4-7) is not bad, and the trees will not die from fireblight. The last two (8-9) have been around a long time and are best used for canning or cooking as opposed to fresh eating. It is best to plant two varieties for proper pollination.

But what about the Bartlett? That is the one which everyone knows and buys in the grocery -- and all the nurseries have them! Right on all counts! But Bartlett is the most susceptible of all pear varieties to fire blight. Plant it and watch it die.

Fruit production is a long-term situation. Make a mistake on variety selection, and you will pay the consequences for years to come. Make the right decision and you can be assured of an abundance of delicious pears for many years. Then you won't have to be embarrassed by questions such as, "How would you like a pear like this?" Everyone will have lots of big ones and not be ashamed to show the world. For more information about pears and pear growing, see:

If space is a problem, you might want to consider espaliering. Espalier simply means "a tree or vine trained and pruned to grow flat on a wall or structure". This practice is more common abroad than in America. Espaliering of plants has the advantages of saving space, of giving trees maximum care and, when necessary, shelter, and of helping produce high quality fruit which would otherwise be impossible. Fruit trees such as pears are especially adapted for use as espaliers, however many of the ornamental plants with colorful fruit such as the pyracantha are also very effective.

Espalier Pears

The plant can be fastened directly to a masonry wall or a wood trellis can be used to hold the plant four to six inches from the wall. A relatively simple method of supporting espaliered plants against masonry structures is the use of galvanized or aluminum wire strung between eye screws anchored in plastic or lead plugs inserted in holes drilled into the mortar joints. The desired pattern is established in wire and the plant fastened to the wire using plastic plant tie, cloth or plastic strips to avoid girdling. These ties must be watched carefully and when they become tight, they should be cut and re-tied.

There are many forms for training espaliers; however, in most cases they are trained to grow so that all branches form a vertical plane. The plant may be trained to a single shoot, or to two shoots lying in opposite directions, mostly horizontal, in which case it is called a cordon. The cordon is usually trained along a horizontal wire or low wooden fence. Other methods include the fan-shaped espalier and the gridiron espalier which are both suitable for growing against a wall.

Espalier Pears 6

The training is started when the plant is very young, preferably no older than a two-year old budded or grafted tree. It is important to start before the plant has produced a stiff trunk and large slide branches. Allow only those side shoots to develop which are growing in the proper position and direction to produce the desired effect. All others should be pruned off when small.

The selected lateral shoots are tied to the support as they grow and the side shoots developing from these are pinched out except those wanted for additional arms in the framework. The espalier form most frequently used in the gridiron is that in which three branches are initially chosen. The center one is used as a leader and the other two area trained as horizontal cordons until they reach the point where the outside verticals are desired. The tips are then allowed to turn upward and form two outside verticals. If the seven-branched gridiron is wanted the leader is pinched to develop side branches at two more levels before the leader is allowed to develop as the central riser. Each of the other horizontal pairs is allowed to develop until they reach the point where the vertical branches are wanted. It may require two to three years to obtain the desired structure. The side shoots on the lateral canes must be continuously pinched back.

Espalier Pears

While the production of an espalier is rather time consuming, the end results are very rewarding.



PACK - All fruit to within one-half inch to top of jar.

RAW PACK - Fill jar 1 and one-half inches from top with syrup, fruit juice or water.

HOT PACK - Fill jar one-half inch from top with syrup, fruit juice or water.

TO PREVENT DARKENING OF FRUIT DURING PREPARATION: Drop in mild salt solution of 1 and one-half teaspoons of salt to 1 quart cold water.
ADDING ASCORBIC ACID: The addition of Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) to light colored fruits at the time of canning will help prevent discoloration. Tablet or crystalline form may be used. Put 5 tablets of 50 milligrams in bottom of each quart jar before packing fruit; or add one-half teaspoon of crystalline Ascorbic acid to each quart of the syrup before pouring over fruit in jars, or use commercial Ascorbic and Citric acid mixture following manufacturer's directions.

CANNING FRUIT WITHOUT SUGAR - HONEY or CORN SYRUP may be used instead of sugar. Replace not more than half the sugar with white corn syrup or honey. If more is used the flavor of corn syrup or honey may be more pronounced than the fruit flavors.


REMOVE peel, core and cut into halves or quarters. If peeled fruit is to stand several minutes before precooking, drop into mild salt solution to prevent discoloration. Drain.

RAW PACK: If pears are ripe enough to be quite soft, they may be packed raw to within one-half inch of top of jar. Fill to within 1 and one-half inches of top of jar with boiling syrup. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight.

HOT PACK: Boil 3 to 5 minutes in thin or medium syrup. Pack into Kerr jars to within one-half inch of top. If desired, add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to each quart. Fill to within one-half inch of top of jar with boiling syrup. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight.

Process: Pints 25 minutes
Quarts 30 minutes
Boiling Water Bath

5 pounds firm pears (15 cups sliced) 10 cups sugar
2 cups seedless raisins One-half cup orange rind
(cut fine)
1 cup orange juice 4 tablespoons lemon juice

PEEL pears and cut in small pieces. Add sugar and let stand overnight. Then add raisins, orange rind cut in small pieces, and juice of oranges and lemons. Cook until thick, about 30-35 minutes. Pour into sterilized Kerr jars to within one-half inch of top. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight. Process in Boiling Water Bath 10 minutes. Yield: 12 eight ounce jars.


2 oranges 4 pounds pears (9 cups, diced)
2 cups canned crushed pineapple Sugar (See below - Add half as much (drained) sugar (drained) as fruit mixture)

4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 8-ounce bottle maraschino cherries
(thinly sliced)

WASH and remove peel from oranges. Add 1 quart of water to peel and boil 5 minutes. Drain and discard water. Add another quart water, boil 5 minutes. Drain and discard water. Grind the peel and the peeled oranges together. Wash, pare and remove core of pears, cut into small pieces. Combine oranges, pears and pineapple. Measure. Add half as much sugar as fruit mixture. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Cook rapidly until almost thick (about 40 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add cherries and cook about 5 minutes longer. Pour into sterilized Kerr jars to within one-half inch of top. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight. Process in Boiling Water Bath 10 minutes. Yield: 6 eight ounce jars.


3 pounds ripe pears (9 cups) 1 cup crushed pineapple
Grated rind and juice of 5 cups sugar
1 fresh lime

WASH, pare and core the pears; slice before measuring. Put through a food chopper using the fine blade. Combine pears and pineapple. Add the lime rind and juice. Add sugar and cook over slow heat, stirring frequently. Cook for 20 minutes. Pour into sterilized Kerr jars to within 1/4 inch of top. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight. Process in Boiling Water Bath 10 minutes. Yield: 8 eight ounce jars.


4 cups diced pears 4 cups diced tart apples
5 tablespoons lemon juice 5 cups sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon

PEEL and dice fruit. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Boil about 20 minutes. Take from heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes to plump. Bring back to boil stirring frequently until mixture is thick and clear (about 10 minutes). Pour into sterilized Kerr jars to within 1/4 inch of top. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight. Process in Boiling Water Bath 10 minutes. Yield: 8 eight ounce jars.


3 quarts pears (sliced or chopped) 3 cups water or juice
4 and one-half cups sugar 6 slices of lemon (optional)

PARE fruit (if hard, cook until tender in water). Make syrup of liquid and sugar, add fruit to partly cooled syrup and bring gently to boil. Add lemon. Boil rapidly until clear and tender. Let stand in syrup to cool. Reheat syrup to boiling. Pour fruit and boiling syrup into sterilized Kerr jars to within one-half inch of top. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight. Process in Boiling Water Bath 10 minutes. Yield: 10 eight ounce jars.


4 cups pears (peeled, chopped) 3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt 1 lemon (ground)

COMBINE all ingredients and cook in kettle, stirring occasionally about 15 minutes or until of spreading consistency. Pour into sterilized Kerr half-pint jars to within one-half inch of top. Screw band down firmly tight and process in Boiling Water Bath 10 minutes. Yield: 5 eight ounce jars.


1 quart vinegar 6 pounds sugar (12 cups)
12 pounds peeled fruit (6 quarts)

MAKE a syrup of the vinegar and sugar and add a spice bag made of 1 tablespoon of ground cloves, and 1 piece of ginger root if desired. Add 4 or 5 whole sticks of cinnamon to the syrup. Add peaches or pears to this boiling syrup. Cook until the fruit can be readily pierced with a straw, let stand in a covered kettle overnight. Next day pack into sterilized Kerr jars. Fill jar to within one-half inch of top with fruit and syrup. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight. Process in Boiling Water Bath 20 minutes.


1 gallon ground pears 8 cups ground onions
(hard, Keiffer variety) 8 sweet green peppers (chopped)
2 hot red peppers (chopped) 2 quarts white vinegar
2 ½ teaspoons salt 3 tablespoons dry mustard
6 teaspoons allspice 2 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon 2 teaspoons turmeric
4 cups sugar

PEEL pears before grinding. Mix ingredients and bring to boil. simmer 15 minutes. Pack into sterilized Kerr jars to within one-half inch of top. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight. Process in Boiling Water Bath 10 minutes. Yield: 10 pints.

Renita Smith

8 to 10 large pears, cored, peeled and sliced or cut in chunks

one - half cup water

one teaspoon cinnamon (can add one-half teaspoon ginger)

one-half to one cup of sugar

Put all ingredients into slow cooker, cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. Serve warm with cream as a desert fruit or cold.

I found by using this way of cooking the pears they could be used in any recipes that call for apples, like fruit breads. they are just as tasty as you want to make them. I even used them in raspberry jell-o and with the spices it proved to be very good.

1 box lemon Jell-O
1 Tablespoon. vinegar
Maraschino cherries
black cherries
Dissolve Jell-O-add vinegar.
Set until cook.
Put small amount Jell-O in ringed molds.
Fill with cherries, diced pineapple, pears and nuts.
Finish mold with Jell-O.
Use as much black cherry juice as you have in mixing Jell-O.
Serve with cream cheese in center.

1 pkg. lime or orange Jell-O
1 No. 2 can pears
2-3 ounce package cream cheese
one-half pint cream
one-half cup chopped nuts (toasted, salted & buttered)
one-half cup mayonnaise
Drain 1 cup juice from pears.
Heat, dissolve Jell-O in this. Add mashed pears.
Put in refrigerator until partly congealed.Remove and heat.
Add cream cheese churned with mayonnaise.
Beat well and fold in cream.
Add nuts and congeal.

Pear Bread
3 cups flour 3 eggs
2 cups sugar 1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp cloves 1 cup oil
1 1/2 tsp. soda 3 1/2 cups of grated pears
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt

Peel and grate pears. Set aside. Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients, including pears. Pour into two loaf pans and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hr. and 15 min.