Pears are known for their delicate, buttery flavor; velvety texture; long shelf life; and versatility. Pears are in season from September to May. There are many varieties of pears available on the market, with organic and heirloom varieties often available in most grocery stores.
Bartlett, Bosc, and Anjou are among the most commonly seen pear varieties in United States markets. This highly versatile fruit is perfect for many types of dishes and cooking styles. Pears can be enjoyed fresh in season or canned year-round.
Pears were one of the first fruits to be cultivated by man. Records show that as early as 5,000 B.C., pears were being commercially cultivated in China.
Homer wrote of pears in his epic work, The Odyssey. Roman farmers cultivated and cross-bred pear varieties to perfect the fruit. Throughout the Renaissance, many artists featured pears in still-life paintings.
By the 17th century, pears were being grown in orchards across Europe. In the 1800s, pioneers brought pears across North America to the Pacific Northwest, where the growing conditions were perfect to establish thriving pear orchards. Throughout history, pears have been prized for their long shelf life and versatility.
China is the largest producer of pears worldwide. Within the United States, Washington state orchards yield the largest amount of pears. Approximately 25% of the pears cultivated around the world are canned and a majority of these pears are Bartletts.
Selecting and Storing Pears
Once pears ripen, they need to be used immediately. If you will not be using your pears the same day that you purchase them, select pears that feel fairly firm, but are not rock-hard. They will ripen to perfection on your kitchen counter.
Select pears that have no bruises or mold. Their skin should be smooth, without punctures or soft spots.
If you will be eating your pear immediately, test for ripeness by gently pressing on the neck of the pear by the stem. If this area yields to pressure, the pear should be ready to eat.
If your pears ripen before you are ready to use them, place them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh for a few more days.
If you need your pears to ripen quickly, place them in a paper sack on the counter.
Pears are hypoallergenic, meaning that they are highly unlikely to cause a food allergy or allergic reaction. This makes them one of the first foods that doctors recommend for infants. This also makes pears perfect for including in recipes that you prepare for large gatherings where you might be unsure of the guests’ eating restrictions or allergies.
Pears are full of antioxidants to lower your risk of developing high blood pressure, cancer, and stroke. These antioxidants also boost your immune system.
Pears are packed with fiber to encourage bowel regularity, promote colon health, and maintain safe blood sugar levels.
Pears are full of folic acid making them an excellent choice for pregnant mothers.
Pear juice is a great natural source of fructose and glucose to give you a boost of energy.
Pears are packed with pectin to lower your cholesterol levels and keep your bowels functioning properly.
A good amount of a pear’s nutrition is found in its skin. Gently wash pears with cool water and pat them dry. Then, they are ready to eat.
Once a pear has been cut, it will brown quickly. To preserve its delicate color place your pear slices in water with an acidic juice, such as lemon, lime, or orange juice, until you are ready to use them.
Use a melon-baller or small scoop to remove pear seeds.
Ripe pears should be peeled carefully with a knife, instead of a fruit and vegetable peeler.
Spiced Pickled Pears
Almond Stuffed Pears
Steamed Honey Pears
Pears in Caramel Cream
Cranberry, Apple, and Pear Sauce
Open-Faced Blue Cheese Sandwich with Pear
Turkey Sauteed with Pears and Pecans
Lamb and Pear Tagine
Broiled Pear and Swiss Cheese Sandwich
Quinoa and Arugula Salad with Pears, Walnuts, Dried Fruits and Jack Cheese
Pear and Blue Cheese Pizza
Roasted Pear, Walnuts, and Parmesan Salad
Pear Walnut Coffee Cake
Caramelized Pear Pancake
Almost Perfect Pear Bread
Bartlett Pear Muffins
Pear Pound Cake
Apple Pear Pie
Fresh Pear Cake
Pear and Almond Pancakes
Cheddar Pear Cobbler