You've probably noticed an array of pears at your local market. The sweet and juicy fruit is now in season. Pears are tasty --obviously!-- and full of nutritious dietary fiber, vitamin C and copper.
According to Mother Earth News' article "Pears," by Doreen G. Howard, most pears sold in stores today are heirlooms. Heirloom pears, such as Bartlett, Cornice, Bosc, Seckel, and Anjou, remain popular because of the fruits' taste and buttery texture.
Pears are great to eat fresh, cooked (consider poaching pears in wine, syrup, fruit juice, or water), and baked (pears are wonderful in tarts, pies and cakes.) Warm spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, bring out a pear's flavor.
When buying a pear: Choose firm pears without bruises or cuts. If the pear isn't ripe, place it in a punctured paper bag, and leave at room temperature. It will be ready to eat once it's slightly soft to the touch.
When to eat a pear: Eat fresh pears whole. Pear skin is edible. If you decide to cut a fresh pear, but don't want to eat it immediately, brush the pear's sides with lemon. If you want to cook a pear, skin the fruit. The skin tends to toughen when cooked. Poaching a whole pear typically takes 15-25 minutes, quartering and roasting a pear takes 20-24 minutes, and pan frying a pear takes 4-5 minutes.
Want to try a few pear recipes this weekend? Check out OA's numerous pear recipes. Here are two favorites:
Want to find about some of the more common pears? Browse Epicurious.com's pear guide. It outlines some of the more common pears, and details which pears are European, or Asian.
Image: Anna Loveru