Pears date back to the eighth century. Their sweet taste prompted Homer to proclaim them "gifts from the gods." Since then, over 5,000 varieties of pears have been grown throughout the world. While you probably won't find that much variety at your local supermarket, the yellow-green Bartlett, the slender Bosc and the red-blushed d'Anjou should all be "apPEARing" this fall at a store or farmer's market near you.
Don't Pass Up Pears
Pears are a good source of vitamin C. One will give you 10 percent of the vitamin C you need in a day.
Pears are also loaded with dietary fiber, offering almost 4 grams per piece of fruittwice as much as a piece of whole wheat bread. And whether it's green, golden or redleave the skin on your pearit provides extra fiber and nutrients.
Pick Perfect Pears
Look for firm pears that are free of bruises and blemishes. Most pears in the store will need to ripen for a few days at room temperature. When ripening, pears need to be exposed to circulating air so ripen them on the counter, not in a plastic bag. A pear ripens from its core outward, so don't let a pear sit on the counter until very soft on its surfaceit will be overripe. Refrigerate ripe pears.
According to the Pear Bureau Northwest, Bartlett pears are one of the few varieties that signal ripeness by a change in color. Yellow Bartletts, at first green, turn bright yellow as they ripen. Red Bartletts change from a dark red color to a brighter more brilliant red, often with some light vertical striping.
Ripe pears are soft, juicy, fragrant and delicious. Enjoy them raw for portable snacks. Chop pears of different colors into a spinach salad. Pears are delicious cooked too. Mix diced pears into wild rice with cubed smoked turkey and pecans. Bake pears into gingerbread, a fruit crisp or a tart. Experiment with pears canned in natural juices and dried pearsboth are available year-round.
Celebrate pears with these FoodFit recipes:
Fall Salad with Asian Pears and Sherry Vinaigrette
Roast Pork Loin with Peppery Pear Butter
Whole Wheat Griddle Cakes with Pear Compote
Pears Poached Simply in Syrup
Tropical Fruit Salsa
This article was contributed by Catherine Macpherson, MS, RD