As a member of the rose family, an attractive fruit and once considered a luxury as related to the apple and the quince, the pear is sweet and juicy with a white to cream-colored flesh. Pears were a dubbed “gift of the gods” by Homer in eighth century BC.
Their skins can be yellow, green, brown, red, or a combination involving one or more of these colors. The texture is soft, yet slightly grainy.
America started growing pear trees in the early colonies in 1620. In the 1700s, missionaries brought them over to California and Mexico to plant in their mission gardens. Most of the nation’s pears today are grown in the Northwest with an emphasis on the Yakima Valley. Of the thousands of varieties grown around the world, most commonly grown in America are the Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc (the choice of connoisseurs), and Comice.
While Anjou and Bosc are winter pears usually sold fresh, most of Yakima’s pears are Bartletts sold for canning.
Pears are commonly picked green as then they are not as susceptible to bruising. Upon ripening, the skin color changes according to variety. Anjou and Bartlett pears turn yellow, the Bosc turns brown, and Comice pears have a green mottled skin. Once ripe, pears will keep fresh for a few days if stored in the refrigerator.
Like apples, pears are a very good source of dietary fiber. Since their skin provides some of the fiber and nutrients, it is recommended not to peel the fruit before eating. If nonorganic, rinse them carefully; spray with a diluted solution of additive-free soap or commerical produce wash before eating.
Pears contain Vitamins B2, C, and E as well as copper and potassium. Two-thirds of a medium pear provides 58 calories, .4 gram of protein, .1 gram of fat, and 15.4 grams of carboyhydrate.
Pears are actually higher in pectin than apples, and so they are good candidates in helping to lower cholesterol levels and in toning the intestines. As a hypoallergenic fruit not known to contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines, they are less likely to produce an adverse response than other fruits and are particularly safe as an introduction of fruits to infants.
Pears pair well with goat or blue cheese. Or try Pecorino cheese.
Grill pears and onions. Then place on a bed of romaine lettuce drizzled with olive oil and fresh romemary.
Salad: Combine with mustard greens, watercress, leeks, and walnuts.
After coring pears, stuff with raisins and nuts. Then poach in apple juice or wine.
Apple, plum, and pear cake recipe, click here.
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“There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The pear is the grandfather of the apple, its poor relation, a fallen aristocrat, the man-at-arms of our domains, which once, in our humid land, lived lonely and lordly, preserving the memory of its prestige by its haughty comportment.” Francois Pierre de la Varenne, French chef, 1615-1678 during age of Louis XIV