The pear is to autumn as the strawberry is to summer. A great fruit to start of packing lunches with nutrition & convenience! Pears are sweet and aromatic and ripen to holda sweet juicy meat beneath a soft outer thin skin.
Like the apple, the pear is a member of the rose family. The variety of a pear determines the skin colour… from pale yellow to green, red to brown, and shades in between. At Ralph’s we specialize in the following notable varieties in Canada:
Ralph’s offers two varying Anjou pears, not necessarily at the same time: The green Anjou has a pale green skin with a yellow tinge. The green remains as the pear ripens, whereas the red Anjou’s deep red skin darkens with ripening. The Anjou pear is a short-necked oval that is naturally sweet. With pride, we can state that all commercially grown Canadian Anjou pears come from BC orchards. Originating in France, its tender flesh is less granular than other varieties. Flavourful but not quite as juicy or flavourful as other pears with a firmer texture, making them an ideal for baking various food dishes, desserts, as well as salads. Great for fall storage in a cold place for extremely long periods.
- North America – late September through March
- SouthAmerican Imports – August through May
The Bartlett, known in Europe as the Williams, is probably the most popular of pears, owing largely to its eye appeal. The most bell-shaped of any variety, it has a slender neck and a wide bottom. Its skin is green, turning yellow when ripe, and its flavour is pleasantly musky. Unfortunately, this pear bruises easily and tends to go off from the inside out. The Bartlett pear has a light green skin eventually turns a clear, yellowish color when ripe. Flesh is juicy and sweet with a fine-grained, smooth texture. Great for fresh snacks and salads, dried, and, because Bartletts keep their flavour even after heating, they’re a natural for canning as well as a variety of cooked dishes.
- North America – late August to November
- SouthAmerican Imports – July through December
Originally found in Belgium, the Bosc pear has a thick, naturally occurring rough cinnamon brown skin, giving it a golden appearance. The skin continues to stay this colour as the fruit ripens. This variety of pear has an noticeable long tapering neck with a crisp-textured, almost crunchy flesh, which keeps firmly shaped during cooking. Spices and sauces are great cooking companions due to the Bosc’s full-bodied flavour, in addition to baking, poaching, and the obvious snacking when raw.
- North America – late September to January
- SouthAmerican Imports – August through May
HOW TO CHOOSE
The North American pear season starts in late summer and – because some varieties store so well – lasts through the early spring. In addition to the South Americans’ summer & fall contributions, this fruit is available virtually year round. Pears are picked green to encourage better texture and ripening stage when offered to you at our market.
Unlike the other varieties, Bartlett pears change colour when they are ripe – turning completely yellow and give off a sweet aroma. This pear bruises easily when ripe, so handle with care. Avoid soft spots or deep scars. Fruit that is extremely hard will ripen best at room temperature in a paper bag.
Ripe pears should yield when pressure is applied with a fingertip to the area around the stem while they still may feel firm and solid in areas around the base and away from the stem. Don’t worry about minor scars and blemishes, however, since they do not affect flavour. As with all fruit, watch for damaged skin and mushy brown spots, which may suggest spoilage through to the core.
To ripen at home, store pears in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature for a few days. Adding an apple or banana to the bag will speed the ripening even more.
Unripe pears that need to be preserved for several days, if not weeks, can be placed unwashed in a refrigerator, which will also serve to decrease the ripening process. A few days before needed, place them at room temperature to ripen. Refrigerated a ripe pears will last a couple days as well.
A pear that yields a bit to the gentle pressure of your thumb to the stem end is ripe. At this point, it is ready for immediate use, since it may only be a day or two for a pear to become mushy after fully ripening.
Wash or rinse under cool running water before eating or cooking. If you like, you can slice a pear in half or quarter into bite-size pieces to remove the core and seeds. Once pears are cut or peeled, coat with lemon juice to keep them from discoloration. Try dipping them into a mixture of 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 cup of water.
Pears are popular for snacking fresh, but can be baked, made into vinegar, juice, jam, and jelly. Unripe and firm pears can be cooked, poached, or baked in tarts and compotes.
For recipes, one medium-sized pear equals approximately 1 cup of slices or a half of pound of fruit.
Quick & Easy Serving Ideas Here are some delectable ideas that show off a pear’s versatility throughout your family’s day:
- Use overripe pears in your morning smoothie
- Use dried or grated fresh pears in quick breads and muffin batters
- Topping for breakfast (or dessert) pizzas
- Serve baked pears for brunch. (cut pears in half leaving stems intact, drizzle with honey or maple syrup and bake until tender)
- Stuff them in French Toast
- Cut into cubes and add to green, fruit, and pasta salads (with a soft cheese and walnuts!)
- Dress up sandwiches, wraps, and pitas with thin slices of fresh pear
- Use them as a “cracker” for cheese
- Keep a pear or two in the fridge at work for a nutritious coffee break snack
- Spread crackers and bagels with pear chutney. Add them to spicy chutney
- Served with platters of fine cheese (Brie, aged cheddar, Swiss, or Gruyère)
- Use in a fruit platter
- Poached in red wine for a classic dessert
- A great accompaniment to a cheese course
- Fruit crisps and crumbles
- With pork roast or ham
- Stuffing – Add peeled, chopped pears for turkey and chicken stuffings
- Substitute apples in any recipe
- Use several different varieties, all on the green side, to make a terrific pie
- Poach pears, seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg, and serve them with strawberry sauce for a simple, very pretty dessert that tastes great
- Dip them in chocolate or cover them in caramel
- Pear upside-down cake
- Fold them in your rice pudding
- Décor – During the holidays, line a basket with napkins, pile up a variety mix, tuck in sprigs of holly and maybe a few ornaments, and you’ll have a pretty centerpiece that’s also a good way to ripen the fruit
Baking Bartlett and Bosc pears hold their shape well during cooking. Core the unpeeled fruit from the bottom, then cut a thin slice from the bottom so the pears will stand upright. Alternatively, you can cut the pears in half lengthwise and then core them. Place them in a baking dish with a small amount of liquid. Cover with foil and bake, 40 to 60 minutes, in a 325 degrees F oven until tender, basting occasionally with the pan juices.
Poaching Pears may be poached in water, fruit juice, or wine. Red wine or cranberry juice will tint them a lovely deep rose. For more flavour, try adding whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, or ground spices to the cooking liquid. To poach, rub peeled and cored whole pears with lemon juice, then place them in simmering liquid and cook, partially covered for 15-20 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife. Turn the pears once during cooking and baste them occasionally with the cooking liquid.
Sautéing For tender-crisp pears, sauté unpeeled pear slices in fruit juice or stock; season with your favourite spices or try cinnamon, ginger, or curry powder. Cook quickly at medium-high heat for 2 to 5 minutes.
Total Fat: 0.66g
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.
- Pears ripen from the inside out. This takes place best once harvested
- Cultivated for nearly 4,000 years, pears originated in Asia and became known throughout Europe during the Roman Empire. Until the 16th century, this fruit’s texture was tough and required cooking, but in the 17th and 18th centuries, gardeners for European noblemen began to crossbreed varieties, competing with each other to get a pear with a soft, buttery flesh. Early colonists brought the first trees to America where blights deprived the flourishing of this fruit. Most North American pears are now grown in the west with less disease problems
- Pears have two distinct classes of species: the European soft-fleshed bell-shaped, and the Asian crunchy round-shaped
- Also known as the Beurre variety, Anjou originated in France.