Perry is a product from which a beverage has traditionally been made in England and Wales for more than 500 years – which is know in northern France as poiré. Formerly wild pears, originating in the Forest of Dean in the Wye Valley, these particular varieties of pears were propagated/grafted and domesticated by local farmers as early as the 1500s. These pears, otherwise inedible, were pressed for their juice and transformed into an alcoholic beverage, records of which exist since the early 1500s , mentioned in John Gerdard’s ‘The Herball or Genereall History of Plantes’ (sic) published in 1597 (see attached). Significantly in historical times it was safer to drink a fermented beverage than the local pond or river water. Farm workers were also paid with it by the gallon per day. Traditionally the beverage was made from the juice of Perry pears, by crushing the pears in circular stone mill by pulled by a horse or mule. Currently in Australia the juice is extracted through matting by pressure, not dissimilar to traditional methods through nylon rather than horse-hair matting The Traditional areas of production were Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire in the UK, where the beverage, Perry is a Slow Presidium product. In Australia, at Harcourt near Bendigo. Dating back to the 15th Century when there are written records of it by the late 1500s of it eg by John Gerard.Oral history has it that these perry pear varieties were introduced into the goldfields near Bendigo in Victoria in the early 1860s, or before. In Australia it provided a low-alcoholic beverage to sate the thirst of the gold miners during the Gold Rushes in Victoria, as an alternative to beer. One producer in particular is growing this variety, but others are maintaining the varieties by establishing orchard orchards in Tasmania of these and other varieties. Moreover all production is artisanal as the fruit is in such limited supply.
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.