Sharing Traditions and Recipes at Stillwater Orchards
The Elliot family’s roots run deep in California’s Sacramento River Delta. The family has been growing and packing pears here for 165 years under the name Stillwater Orchards.
Some of their pear trees are over 160 years old and still producing sweet, juicy pears each harvest, proving the family’s long term commitment to sustainability.
“My life has revolved around growing pears in the Delta,” says Ryan Elliot, 6th generation pear grower.
As you walk through their orchards, you can see the difference between the old and young trees. The younger trees’ canopies grow outward while the older trees’ branches grow in a more upward direction. Ryan and his dad, Richard, tell us this is because the old trees were originally pruned in a way that allowed for horses and wagons to fit between the rows during harvest and orchard maintenance. A practice that has long since been replaced by tractors.
For a family so ingrained in their community and business, tradition is in no short supply. Recipes passed down from one generation to the next are the strongest traditions and carry some of the fondest memories for the Elliots.
The Elliots shared with us some of their favorite quick and easy ways to enjoy California Bartlett pears.
“During the week, I eat at least one pear a day. Just eating a pear by itself is a delicious and satisfying snack,” Kirstin Elliot tells us. “But on the weekends, I like cooking with pears and making family recipes.”
Below are a few simple ways the Elliots prepare their favorite fruit. From crowd-pleasing appetizers to a refreshing pear cocktail, these recipes are the perfect addition to your next gathering or at home happy hour.
Along with these recipes, other Elliot family favorites include pear ginger jam (a secret family recipe made by Grandma Elliot), pear pancakes and even a pear cider they’ve been brewing! There’s no limit to how this family uses pears!
Pear Crostini With Blue Cheese & Walnut Spread
- 3 Bartlett pears
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 2/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 2/3 Cup toasted walnuts (Chopped with a knife or in a food processor until pea size or smaller pieces)
- 1 dash Worcestershire Sauce (about 1 tsp)
- 2 Tablespoons chopped Green Onions or chives
- 1 sourdough baguette sliced in ½ thick rounds
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil
- Mix together cream cheese, blue cheese, walnuts, green onions, and dash Worcestershire in a bowl until well combined. (Refrigerate while you continue to prepare the crostini and pear)
- Preheat oven to 350* F. Place sliced sourdough on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Bake about 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Slice pears into wedges removing core
- Spread the blue cheese walnut dip on the baked crostini and top each with a pear wedge.
- Place on a serving platter and drizzle each crostini with honey.
Pears wrapped in Prosciutto
- 3 Bartlett pears cut into wedges (should make about 18 pear wedges)
- 9 slices of Prosciutto
- Olive Oil (about 2 tablespoons)
- Balsamic (about 2 tablespoons)
- Sea Salt
- Cut Prosciutto slices in half.
- Wrap each wedge of pear in Prosciutto half.
- Place on a serving plate and drizzle wrapped pears with olive oil and balsamic.
- Sprinkle with sea salt
*Sometimes the Elliots like to add a dollop of goat cheese onto each pear slice before wrapping them in Prosciutto.
Delta Breeze Cocktail
- 2 Bartlett Pears (The pear you use for muddling in the cocktail must be very ripe)
- 1.5 oz. Gin or Vodka
- .75 oz. Lemon juice
- .75 oz. St. Germain (Elderflower Liqueur)
- .5 oz. Simple Syrup
- Ginger Beer (About 6 oz.)
Slice 1 pear into cubes (removing core) and add to cocktail shaker. Slice other pear into wedges for garnish. Muddle pear in cocktail shaker. Add all other ingredients except the ginger beer to the cocktail shaker. Shake well for 15 seconds. Add ice to the shaker and shake for another 15 seconds. Strain into cocktail glass or Mason jar and top each with 2-3 oz. ginger beer. Stir and garnish with pear wedge.
Like most things in life, these recipes are best enjoyed with family and friends. Be sure to give them a try while California Pears are in season or use canned California pears to enjoy ripe, sweet and ready to eat pears year round!