Head to your local market and you’ll find delicious pears piled high right next to all those apples. Many recipes are substituting crunchy pears in place of apples. It appears that pears are everywhere — but are they the new apples?
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If you’ve ever bitten into a pear, heard a crunching sound, but didn’t really taste the sweetness you might have expected, chances are it wasn’t quite ripe. A little-known fact about pears: They’re one of the few fruits that don’t ripen on the tree. Once they’re picked,they need a little time for their sugars to develop, then they ripen (and sweeten) from the inside out.
Some pear varieties change color when ripe. A Bartlett pear acts like a banana—it goes from green to yellow when ready to eat. Unfortunately, not all pears broadcast this transformation so vividly. Checking ripeness doesn’t involve some complicated process however; it really just calls for holding the fruit in your hand. If the area around the stem of a pear gives a little with a gentle squeeze, it’s good to go. The USA Pear Bureau has an easy phrase for remembering how to determine if your pear is ripe: Check the neck.
Also known as “apple pears” these crunchy, yet juicy fruits are a seasonal treat to savor! Gobble ‘em up while you can.
There are more than 5,000 kinds of pears, including 100 of the Asian variety. They’re round and crisp like apples (hence the name) but have an unmistakable pear flavor. Even when ripe, they’re crunchy, so they’ll hold up in a fruit salad. Other delicious pear ideas:
- Roast or sauté with a sprinkle of cinnamon for an oatmeal topper
- Make a batch of apple and pear muffins and store in the freezer for a grab-n-go breakfast.
TELL US: What’s fresh at your farmers’ market this week?
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.
This week on the blog, we covered everything from the classic spaghetti and meatballs to the more adventurous sea greens, and the ideas kept coming. Check out our fave reader submissions from the week — we might have included yours!
Perk up your salads, appetizers or just a simple cheese-and-cracker plate. You can do a lot more with pears than just snacking (but that’s a good way to eat them, too).