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Pears

Pears

Sweet and delicate with a fresh, clean flavor, pears are a gift from nature. And when it comes to cooking with them, let’s just say they “pear” perfectly with many foods!

Nutrition Highlights:

A medium pear (about the size of a fist) contains a mere 100 calories and is a good source of:

  • Dietary fiber, which is critical to digestive health. A pear provides 15 percent of the recommended daily allowance.
  • Vitamin C, an antioxidant that promotes healing and boosts the immune system
  • Potassium, a mineral important to heart health and nerve and muscle function

History

Did you know?
Pears traveled from England and France to North America with the colonists. In 1640, pear trees were planted in Massachusetts and by 1700 French settlers had planted them along the Detroit River. Today, they are mostly grown in California, Oregon and Washington because of the area’s near-perfect growing conditions.

A fall and winter fruit that’s becoming increasingly available year-round, pears are enjoyed for their juicy sweetness and tender texture.


Varieties and Characteristics

Anjou

  • Shape: Squat
  • Texture: Firm and mealy
  • Flavor profile: Juicy with a sweet-spicy flavor
  • Best uses: Eaten fresh, or used in salads or desserts

Asian

  • Shape: More apple-shaped than the traditional pear
  • Texture: Firm and juicy, with plenty of crunch
  • Flavor profile: Part apple, part pear
  • Best uses: Eaten fresh, or used in salads, or for baking

Bartlett

  • Shape: Traditional pear shape
  • Texture: Smooth
  • Flavor profile: Sweet, with a perfume-like aroma
  • Best uses: Eaten fresh, or used in salads and desserts

Bosc

  • Shape: Squat
  • Texture: Firm and mealy
  • Flavor profile: Juicy with a sweet-spicy flavor
  • Best uses: Eaten fresh, or used in salads or desserts

Comice

  • Shape: Slender with a longer top and long, thin stem
  • Texture: Buttery
  • Flavor profile: Subtle and nutty
  • Best uses: Eaten fresh, or used in baking or poaching

Forelle

  • Shape: Small with a bell shape
  • Texture: Smooth
  • Flavor profile: Sweet and ultra-juicy
  • Best uses: Eaten fresh, or used in salads and desserts

Seckel

  • Shape: Petite, sometimes even small enough to be bite-size
  • Texture: Smooth
  • Flavor profile: Super-sweet flavor
  • Best uses: Eaten fresh, or used in appetizers and desserts

Selecting:

Look for firm, unripe pears. Because they are delicate, it's best to let them ripen at home. They'll become softer and sweeter if allowed to slowly ripen and mellow.

Storing and Ripening:

  • Ripen hard pears in a paper bag or covered fruit bowl at room temperature. Check daily for readiness.
  • Store unripe pears in the refrigerator until you're ready to ripen them; once out of the fridge, keep them at room temperature.
  • Check for ripeness by gently pressing the stem end of the pear with your thumb. If there's some give, that's a good sign.
  • Color may not indicate ripeness since some varieties will not change after picking.
  • To keep longer, refrigerate ripe pears three to five days.
  • Cooking with Pears:

    • If eating whole, simply wash before eating. For best flavor and nutrients, don't skip the skin!
    • For salads and desserts, wash, peel and cut pears using a small, sharp knife.
    • To halve pears, cut lengthwise and remove the core with a small knife.
    • Brush sliced pears that will not be immediately eaten with a little lemon juice to prevent browning.
    • To poach or stuff whole pears, use a melon baller to remove the core from the bottom, leaving the rest of the fruit intact.
    • A medium pear will give you about 1 cup of slices.

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