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Passing on passion for homemade foods

Staff writer

Jane Wiens, of rural Hillsboro, credits her upbringing in Pennsylvania with giving her the ambition to make natural foods, like her homemade pear butter.

She feels too many people choose convenience over homemade foods. Her passion for homemade foods comes from growing up in an Old Order Mennonite family.

As a child, she helped grow beans, corn, peas, beets, and strawberries by the bushel. Some of her relatives still can hundreds of jars of food every year, she said.

“They were real good stewards of the land,” Wiens said. “We would never buy what we could make or create on our own.”

Two pear trees are in her yard, producing sweet fruit without the use of pesticides. Because Wiens doesn’t use pesticide, many of her pears have a worm in the core, which she said is easy enough to cut around.

Weather this summer was excellent for growing pears, so she had plenty of pears to work with. Although making pear butter is time consuming, it isn’t difficult, she said.

Her recipe has only three ingredients: pears, raw sugar, and cinnamon. She prefers it on banana bread with peanut butter. Wiens said peeling pears is the most difficult part for her, just because she isn’t used to sitting in one place for as long as it takes.

On the other hand, she enjoys it because it is a good chance to spend time with her daughter, Brooklyn, 10, and talk without the radio on.

She is glad her children get to eat foods that are homemade from start to finish.

“It’s kind of a culinary art,” she said. “A jar of homemade pear butter is like nothing you can buy in a store.”

In 2008, Wiens was ill when she would have been busy making pear butter. She felt much better this year. “Now I have the energy and it’s just fun,” she said. Wiens enjoys giving homemade food to friends and relatives. On Thursday, a visitor stopped at her home and left with a half-pint of pear butter and an armful of pears picked less than an hour before.

“The most fun, I think, is giving something away that you’ve made,” she said.

Wiens hates to see food go to waste. She singled out pumpkins as a particular problem: many people use pumpkins as decorations and then throw them away. She suggested making pumpkin butter instead of throwing out a pumpkin.

Dozens of recipes are available on the Internet.

Last modified Sept. 3, 2009

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