Perry is a little-known traditional English drink made from the fermented juice of perry pears—small, bitter fruits with such a high level of astringent tannins that they are almost impossible to eat raw. Perry has been made in Southern England for centuries, and the name ‘perry’ once referred to all wild pear trees as well as to the beverage. The trees bear viable fruit only after a few decades of growth and the best can be over a century old. The ancient perry orchard is a classic part of the British landscape and its tall, majestic trees provide the basis for an important ecosystem, considered a unique habitat by British naturalists. There are over 100 different varieties of perry pears, but many varieties only have a few remaining specimens and are in danger of disappearing completely. Perry, like cider, was once made on the farm for the farmer’s family and workers and is not suited to large-scale production, as the production of each batch varies greatly with the mixture of pear varieties used.
The method for producing perry is the same as that of producing hard cider. The fruit is harvested, milled to a pulp, and pressed to extract the juice, which is then fermented: some perry undergoes a second inbottle fermentation to make a sparkling beverage. Almost all British perry is produced in the ‘three-counties’ area of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, and is consumed almost exclusively in the region of production. It is a classic accompaniment to traditional British cheeses such as Single and Double Gloucester, Cheshire, and Lancashire. Real perry contains no additives. It can be dry, medium or sweet in taste, and still or sparkling. The quality can vary from ‘rough’ like scrumpy hard cider to an almost wine-like drink. The flavor of farm-made perries is variable: they may be fermented to dryness but will retain a distinct pear aroma.
In 2006, presidium producers drafted a production protocol to define rules for growing and harvesting pears and producing perry.
Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire Counties
Oliver's Cider & Perry
Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire
Butford Organics - the only organic producer
Barbourne Cider & Perry
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