Pears – a multitalented fruit
When did you last eat a pear? If you can’t remember, read on. These juicy fruits with their inimitable shape have all kinds of surprises up their sleeve.
“A Partridge in a Pear Tree” is one of the most famous lines in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” – just one clue that pears have always enjoyed a certain prominence. Today, pear trees still flourish in our native orchards and gardens making them readily available to the masses. It is believed, that the Ancient Persians first cultivated different varieties of the fruit. Around a thousand types of pear already existed in the 19th century.
Dessert pears or cooking pears?
The pears sold in supermarkets today are usually grown in Southern Europe or overseas. We differentiate between table pears, which can be eaten raw, and harder cooking pears that develop their full flavour when made into juice or puree.
When shopping for pears, you’re likely to encounter two or three edible varieties, as well as the smaller, dark green cooking pears in winter. These cooking pears are ideal for savoury dishes like the traditional North German recipe “Pears, Beans & Bacon”.
Common cultivars include the popular Williams pear, a summer fruit for snacking or distilling pear schnapps. Abate Fetel and conference pears are two slightly firmer winter pears. Take care when transporting pears as they are fragile and likely to bruise.
Ripe and ready to eat
Pears are climacteric meaning they continue to ripen and improve in flavour after being picked. Only buy ripe pears if you intend to eat them immediately. They taste mild and sweet, and some varieties are very juicy. If fruits feels firm, store them at room temperature for a few days until they ripen. You can drive forward the ripening process by storing your pears next to some apples since they lose a lot of ethylen, a ripening gas. Pop them in the fridge if you want to delay the ripening process. Almost all pears change colour when they ripen. Their skin becomes lighter and they develop a fruity aroma.
Pears’ mild flavour makes them the perfect accompaniment to cheese. They also work well as finger food and complement most savoury snacks. Low acidic levels and a sweet taste also make pears ideal for stewing or mashing into baby food.
Bring out the flavour by adding a pinch a vanilla or cinnamon to juices, purees and jams. And for the bakers among you: as well as the famous French “Poire Belle Hélène” there are countless other desserts featuring pears to try out!
So what are you waiting for? Tuck into a pear today!