A pear can indulge one's senses with its voluptuous shape, array of rich autumn colors, and juicy, sweet flesh. It is virtually an edible fantasy.
Some have even deemed the pear as "the queen of fruit" or "gift of the gods" possibly because this luscious pome fruit provides satisfaction to the eyes, the lips, the taste buds, and the body.
I recently had the pleasure of eating a locally grown honey ginger pear that had a subtle but sweetly perfumed flavor of honey and ginger, as its name states. It was perfectly ripe, juicy and delicious, and was the inspiration for this blog.
A myriad of pear varieties exist, many of which are available year round because, like the apple, they can be cold stored. The pear grows best in temperate climates and are harvested during the summer and early fall months. Pears are sold unripe and can be home ripened at room temperature.
Some of the most common pears are the Bartlett, Bosc, Anjou, and Comice. The yellow or red Bartlett pear is most popular for simply eating as is, but can also be used for baking or canning. It is a flavorful, juicy and sweet pear.
Bosc Pears have a brownish green skin and a firmer, dense flesh that makes it ideal for cooking and baking. Plump Anjou pears come in green and red shades, are juicy and sweet, and also can be eaten as is or made into poached desserts, tarts or baked goods.
The Comice pear is one of the largest, sweetest and juiciest pears that marries perfectly with cheese. Another pear that may not be as well known is the Forelle Pear which is a petite, juicy, and delicately sweet variety perfect for serving with cheese, nuts, and a glass of port. Again, there is a plethora of pear varieties available, so go to your local market, see what is in season and try it out.
Nutritionally speaking the pear is a good source of energy as it is a healthy carb that is lower on the glycemic index. It provides a good amount of water-soluble fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. The pear is a great fruit for children to snack on and is also a good fruit to introduce infants to as it is not a common allergen.
Pears can be eaten as is, mixed in a fruit & nut salad, made into butter, poached, baked, cooked, canned, or pureed. Fresh pears are preferable when making pies, tarts or crumbles; but canned pears can be utilized in baked goods such as cakes or quick breads.
Pears, like applesauce, can be pureed and used to replace fat to add tenderness and moisture to the baked good. Try slowly cooking pears down to a thick paste to make pear butter,then sandwich between homemade hazelnut shortbread cookies for a gourmet treat.
Pears work well with many flavors. Here are some flavor pairing ideas for you to get your creative juices flowing:
Nuts - almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, pecans.
Cheese - brie, goat's cheese, marscapone, white cheddar, parmesan, fontina
Fruit - apples, cherries, citrus, cranberries, dates, fig, quince, raisins, raspberries
Wine/Liqueur - white, red, fruity, port, nut liqueurs, brandy, champagne, Kirsch
Spices - anise, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg
Misc - brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, caramel, cream, chocolate, oats, vanilla
So go ahead and indulge in your fantasy, be creative, explore and enjoy the sensual pear. Perfect for morning, evening or afternoon delights.
For more info on the pear check out http://www.usapears.com/. This site is great and even has a wine, cheese & pear pairing chart!
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.