Pears grown in the bottles make the schnapps

  • A pear grown inside a bottle adds flavor to Tracy Johntz's homemade schnapps.

      A pear grown inside a bottle adds flavor to Tracy Johntz's homemade schnapps. George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • A pear grows in a bottle on a tree in the back yard of Tracy Johntz's Glenview home.

      A pear grows in a bottle on a tree in the back yard of Tracy Johntz's Glenview home. George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Johntz adds homemade pear juice and a splash of grain alcohol to bottle to create his homemade birne schnapps.

      Johntz adds homemade pear juice and a splash of grain alcohol to bottle to create his homemade birne schnapps. George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/16/2009 10:50 AM

It may seems like wizardry, but it's through care and patience that Tracy Johntz creates his special schnapps that starts with a pear in the bottle.

That's right; a full-sized pear rests at the bottom of each bottle of his homegrown birne (pear) schnapps.

 

"I got the idea after getting a bottle with an apple in it as a gift from a cousin," Johntz says.

In late spring Johntz inserts fingertip-sized pears at the end of branches that grow in his Glenview yard into the body of a narrow-neck bottles leaving room for the pears to grow. He tapes the upside down bottles to rods in the ground so the branches won't break and then waits three months for them to grow.

In early September Johntz picks a couple of bushels of pears and the five bottled pears from his two trees.

To make the schnapps, Johntz chops and cooks 40 pears for four hours in a 19-quart steamer pot - the same pot his mother used to make baby food for him and his sister during the Depression. A spigot at the bottom allows cooled juice to run through a tube and funnel into the bottles.

"My wife (Tanya) calls it a still but its really not."

Johntz then adds a splash of grain alcohol to each bottle before capping them.

"Let it age for 20 minutes and its ready," he says, adding that the final mix is about 50 proof.

"It's a good healthy drink that will take care of a cold," he claims.

Johntz has been making his schnapps for 10 years, passing the coveted elixir along to family and friends. He says it gets better with age; one bottle has aged for three years now and he pours it only on special occasions.

0 Comments
  • Article Categories
  • Food
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.