Perry is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented pears. Perry has been common for centuries in Britain, particularly in the Three Counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and in parts of south Wales; and France, especially Normandy and Anjou.
Perry pears and techniques
As with apples specifically grown to make cider, special pear cultivars are used: in the UK the most commonly used variety of perry pear is the Blakeney Red. They produce fruit that is not of eating quality, but that produces superior perry.
Perry pears are thought to be descended from wild hybrids, known as wildings, between the cultivated pear Pyrus communis subsp. communis, brought to northern Europe by the Romans, and the now-rare wild pear Pyrus communis subsp. pyraster. Perry pears are higher in tannin and acid than eating or cooking pears, and are generally smaller.
The majority of perry pear varieties in the UK originate from the counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire in the west of England. Of these, most originate in parishes around May Hill on the Gloucestershire/Herefordshire border. The standard reference work on these varieties of pear was published in 1963 by the Long Ashton Research Station, since when many varieties have become critically endangered or lost. There were over 100 varieties, known by over 200 local names, in Gloucestershire alone. Perry pears were particularly known for their picturesque names, such as the various Huffcap varieties (Hendre Huffcap, Red Huffcap, Black Huffcap, all having an elliptical shape), those named for the effects of their product (Merrylegs, Mumblehead), pears commemorating an individual (Stinking Bishop, named for the man who first grew it, or Judge Amphlett, named for Assizes court judge Richard Amphlett), or those named for the place they grew (Hartpury Green, Bosbury Scarlet, Bartestree Squash).
Full article ▸