Why We Love Pears by Toby Amidor in Healthy Recipes, November 8, 2012
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Pears are one of the few fruits that don’t ripen on the tree. They’re harvested when mature but not quite ripe to eat. They ripen when left at room temperature, becoming sweeter and more succulent from the inside out.
For most varieties, you can’t judge the ripeness of a pear based on its color. Instead you should “Check the Neck.” The USA pear growers came up with this catchy phrase to remind pear lovers to gently apply pressure around the neck of the pear with your thumb. If your thumb yields to the pressure, then you’ve got yourself a nice, juicy pear. Once a pear is ripe, you can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Other pear tips:
- Like apples, pears also brown once sliced. To prevent browning, dip them in a 50:50 mixture of water and lemon juice.
- Place under-ripe pears in a bowl with fruit like bananas that give off ethylene and speed up ripening.
- Wash pears thoroughly before eating in order to eliminate dirt and bacteria. Be sure to pay special attention to the pear near the stem and bottom by gently scrubbing.
Meet the Varieties
You may be familiar with Bartlett and Bosc pears, but there are so many more varieties you may find.
- Green Anjou: In season September through July. Sweet and juicy with a hint of citrus.
- Bartlett: In season August through February. Juice pears with a delicious flavor and aroma.
- Bosc: In season September through May. Crisp to the bite with a sweet honey flavor.
- Concorde: In season September through January. Crunchy and earthy with a touch of vanilla flavor.
- Seckel: In season September through March. Crunchy, bite-sized red-skinned pears that are super sweet.
- Comice: In season September through March. Light green outside with a sweet custard-like flavor and texture.
- Forelle: In season September through March. Crisp and tangy with a hint of sweetness.
- Starkrimson: In season August through January. This sweet red-skinned pear has a hint of floral essence.
The Nutrition Scoop
One medium pear has 100 calories, 6 grams of fiber and 10% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C. These babies also provide vitamin K, potassium and copper. It’s also brimming with phytochemical antioxidants such as quercetin.
Here are 5 ways to love pears:
- Mashed with butternut squash.
- Baked in a pear tart.
- Cooked with parsnips, ginger and wine.
- Poached in red wine.
- Gingered and boiled with parsnips.
- In this delicious tilapia recipe courtesy of USA Pears.
Caribbean Tilapia with Pears Carnival Roasted Potatoes
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
Carnival Roasted Potatoes
2 small red potatoes
2 small Yukon potatoes
½ yellow bell pepper, cut to 1-inch chunks
1 cup green beans (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 Roma tomato, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons chopped white onion
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Tilapia Oven Packets
4 4-ounce (1 pound total) tilapia fillets, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon Caribbean citrus spice seasoning blend, like Mrs. Dash
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 Anjou USA Pears
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with other vegetables, seasonings, and olive oil. Spread mix in a 2-quart baking dish and place in oven. Roast until potatoes and other vegetables are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
About 15 minutes after the potato dish was placed in the oven, put in the cookie sheet with fish packets, prepared as follows: Brush fish with olive oil, coat with seasoning blend. Place each filet in the center of a square of aluminum foil (or substitute foil with parchment paper). Cut pears into quarters and core; slice into thin wedges (about 8-12 per pear). Top fish with pear wedges. Bring the foil over the fish and fruit. Fold and pinch the seams. Place foil packets on a cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes until tilapia is cooked and fruit is tender. To serve, carefully open the packet, slide contents onto individual serving plates, and add roasted vegetables.
TELL US: Why do you love pears?