She’s Got Quite a Pear! by Janice Taylor, Life & Wellness Coach, Cert. Hypnotist, Author, Syndicated Columnist, Seminar Leader and 50-pound Big-Time-Loser!!
~ Leo Robin (1900-1984), U.S. songwriter. “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,”
Thanks to the miracles of modern science, effective storage methods and swift modes of transport, pears are no longer only available in fall and winter. They are a serve ’em up friendly – year round – summer, spring, winter and fall – fruit.
There are 5,000 varieties of pears grown worldwide, almost 1,000 varieties grown in the U.S., but we most likely encounter only six or seven commercially grown pears.
Eighty-four percent of our pears are grown in Oregon and Washington. The combination of the volcanic soil and clean mountain water, coupled with the warm days and cool nights of spring and summer in the Pacific Northwest make this region the ideal growing environment.
Bartletts are green-speckled and smooth-skinned. They turn yellow as they ripen. Bartletts are good to just eat and/or to bake.
Bosc pears are brown-skinned and have distinctive, long, tapering necks and fat bottoms. They’re sweet, aromatic and are recommended for eating, baking and poaching.
Comice and Seckel pears are harder to come by but worth the effort. The French refer to the Comice as the Queen of Pears – need I say more! She is large, roundish, covered in a thick yellow-green skin with patches of russet. Some consider her the best eating variety. Seckels are small and brown-skinned, with a faint red blush and are generally a cooking pear.
Anjou pears are egg-shaped and their skins are a greenish-yellow color freckled with brown spots. Anjous are great for eating and cooking, and generally available until June.
Pears are loaded with Vitamin C, a good source of the B-complex vitamins, potassium, phosphorous, iodine, and dietary fiber, and a good-sized pear is a bargain at 100 calories. Pears contain about 16 percent carbohydrate and negligible amounts of fat and protein.
Their skin, a delicious source of fiber, provides 5.1 grams or 20% of the recommended daily fiber value. And the skin is rich with phytonutrients.
Did you know that pears are unique in that they best ripen best off the tree? (This was news to me. I’m always squeezing fruit at the market, looking for the ripe ones!) Pears should be ripened after purchase.
Pears (with the exception of Bartlett) do not change color as they ripen. The best way to know if these pears are ripe is to apply gentle pressure to the stem end of the pear with your thumb (a.k.a. the neck). If it yields a bit, it’s ready to eat.
So, if you’re sitting with a bunch of hard pears, put them in a paper bag or covered fruit bowl. Leave at room temperature. Check their ‘necks’ every day. When they yield to the touch, they’re ready.
Once, ripened, if you want to store your pears, put them in your fridge. They should stay fresh for 3 to 5 days.
Ingredients: 4 pears * 1/4 cup light brown sugar * 1 teaspoon nutmeg * 1 teaspoon cinnamon * 2 teaspoons butter * 1/3 cup water
Instructions: Peel pears and cut in half lengthwise; remove core – set aside. * In large skillet – over low to medium flame – combine butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar. * Drizzle water as it mixes. * When it covers the bottom of the pan, place pears, cut side down. * Grill until pears are tender – about 10 minutes or so.
Note: When cooking pears, it’s best to remove the skin – even though they are loaded with vitamins – because the skin tends to get tough during the cooking process.
Fresh pears, cheese and wine: A Tasty Tradition.
When is a Californian Bartlett ready to eat?
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