Some homebrewing advice on ciders, please

I find myself in possession of about 50 pounds of pears, variety unknown. They’re round with rough mottled green-brown skin, not super-sweet, but rather crisp and quite juicy. Sort of like a coarser-grained jicama, with good flavor. With fifty-plus pounds and the trees still bent over under the weight of fruit, I gotta do something with it all. I want to brew cider, or whatever it’s called when pears are used.

I have the bucket, carboy, airlock, hydrometer and such, but I’ve never used them before. I still need to find out a few things, and thought the Straight Dope might be able to offer some advice.

What do I have to do to figure out if this is suitable fruit, and if it is, how can I prepare it? Do I need a fruit press or something?

Second, I’ve been looking at yeast strains, and I want to use a high-gravity monster (I looked at one that said it could tolerate 25% ABV :eek: ) Can I do that? How do I do that? Anyone tried it before?

Obrigado for any and all advice, comments, and condemnations.

  1. Go for it. All fruit is suitable fruit!

  2. Wine yeast…preferably a Wyeast White Wine yeast.

  3. Hack her to death with a knife.

  4. Pears tend to be a bit on the bland side, so use lots. Last time I made a pear cider I ran the peeled and pitted fruit through a grinder, collecting all the juice and pulp. I dumped the whole lot in a bucket, hit it with a little acid blend, dumped in a culture of Champagne yeast I had going, and let her bubble. Rack at least twice before bottling. Adjust sweetness with honey. You might also want to add a little apple juice to the mix, just for backbone. If you ghave access to a fruit press, use it to press the pulp…it makes clean up and racking a bunch easier. :smiley:

  5. Any other questions…ask away!