A while back I found myself with an abundance of pears… Not wanting to make a bunch of baked goods, I did what any logical woman would do… I made vanilla pear infused vodka! And holy yum, this stuff is PERFECT for Moscow Mules. I call that a win! Thankfully, I found a pear producer from California to go along with this boozy feature! Thank you to Double M Farms for sharing your story with us!
PEARS: DOUBLE M FARMS
Walnut Grove, California
When did you start farming? What brought you into farming?
The McDowells have been farming in Walnut Grove, CA since 1947 and Michael is the 3rd generation to manage it. Some of the original pears trees are over 100 years old and still producing.
What chores did you have growing up on the farm?
Michael started actively working on the farm at the age of 12, helping with pear harvest, which in the Delta, is in July for about 3 weeks. During picking, Michael drove the bin carrier. During the rest of the summer, he monitored and fixed orchard sprinklers.
Who farms with you and what are their roles?
Michael and his father, Ed, established the 50/50 partnership in 2005. Michael manages more of the farm each year with finances, paperwork and coordinating overlapping operations on the same land with his sole proprietorship’ of McDowell Hunting Preserve. Michael’s father is simplifying his duties to enjoy more of semi-retirement and the basic love of farming through cutting/baling hay and making parts runs.
What has been the hardest part of farming for you?
Hardest part of farming is having to deal with government paperwork that while necessary is quite complicated and not fun to do. Paperwork entails managing and reporting for numerous aspects of operations including water, food safety, hazardous materials, pesticides, and worker safety.
What crops do you grow and why?
Double M Farms produces pears, alfalfa, wheat, and occasionally corn, and safflower. With the development of a farm trail in the area, the McDowells have made use and expanded on the various private collection of stonefruits and citrus around the home along with producing eggs to market directly to the public through their farm stand. The McDowells open up part of their Bartlett pear orchard as a U-Pick. Michael also operates McDowell Hunting Preserve, an upland gamebird hunt club, on the alfalfa fields during the winter, allowing dual purposing of the land for extra income and helping reestablish the decreasing pheasant population in the area. Michael breeds and raises pheasants, chukar, and quail for the preserve.
Any memories you want to share about this feature ingredient?
Michael has always looked forward to the summer pear harvest for his mom’s fresh, hot pear pies that have a special caramel walnut top instead of crust.
I let my pear vodka infuse in a cool, dark place for 5-6 days. It was plenty of time to flavor it and break down the pears a little bit. Feel free to adapt as necessary, although it is good just as it is! For Moscow Mules, simply mix with Ginger beer in a copper cup and enjoy!
- 2 pears, cored and sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 pieces ginger, sliced thin (1/8 to 1/4 inch)
- 10 whole cloves
- 2 cups good quality vodka
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Add all ingredients to a quart sized jar. Seal and store in a dark, cool location for at least 5 days. Feel free to infuse up to two weeks if desired.
- Strain vodka through mesh strainer into a clean jar or bottle. Seal and store until use.