pick a pear

It’s pear season. And are you aware that Washington is the number one pear producing state in the country? Yep — we grow A LOT of pears here! I’d like to share with you some facts about pears:

pears

Pears are picked before they are ripe, and placed in cold storage. They ripen after brought out of storage, much faster at room temperature. After your pears ripen, store them in the fridge, or better yet, just eat them!

To learn the fast way to slice a pear, and prevent browning, view my video here. (This is the kind of stuff you learn in class here at Sizzleworks!)

And, if you are confused about what sort of pears to purchase, here is a quick glossary of pears:

ANJOU: the second most popular American pear. Oval and short-necked, quite hardy, bright green with a golden glow. Flesh is slightly spicy and gritty near the center, but generally buttery and sweet. Good for eating fresh, and in salads, will not fall apart when cooking. Season is October through May.

ASIAN: tastes like a watermelon crossed with a potato, a bit grainy, sugary and crisp. Best eaten out of hand. Looks more like a yellow apple, round and plump, than a pear. Keeps exceptionally well — can store in refrigerator for up to 3 months.

BARTLETT: most commonly grown pear in the U.S. Ripe when the deep yellow skin is still flecked with green. Bartletts are summer pears, which bruise easily, and do not keep, so most of the harvest goes to canning. Does not stand up well to cooking.

BOSC: may appear to be over-ripe with golden or tan skin, but are especially hard in the store. They have long, slender necks and dark yellow skin with brownish netting, their yellow-white flesh is buttery and juicy. They will reward your ripening efforts by turning creamy, juicy, aromatic and wonderfully spicy when ripe. Delicious fresh, perfect for poaching.

COMICE: considered to be the very best pear in the world. Chubby with a thick skin. Bright green, greenish-yellow with a substantial blush, or dark red. It is very juicy, soft and delicious, best eaten with a knife and fork. Limited availability as they do not keep well in cold storage.

RED BARTLETT: a natural mutation of the Bartlett, with crimson skin, originally produced in Yakima, Washington. Flavor and storage is identical to Bartletts.

SECKEL: smallest of all commercially grown pear varieties. Olive green with a predominant red blush. Hard as rocks in the store, when ripened they are particularly sweet, nice dessert or snack pears.  

Firm-ripe Anjous and Boscs stand up well to cooking with a variety of methods: baking, grilling, poaching or sauteing. Asian pears are best fresh, but will also cook well. But for any variety of pear, freezing is not recommended. 

Pear yields: 1 pound = 3 medium; 3 cups sliced.

And, in case you are looking for a great way to enjoy the pears, either as an appetizer or a dessert, here is one of my favorite quick recipes:

Beecher’s Pear Tart

1 sheet puff pastry
2 Anjou or Bosc pears. thinly sliced
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup grated Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar
1 teaspoon freshly snipped chives

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Roll pastry between parchment sheets to 12” x 12”. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.

Toss pear slices with vinegar to coat, then layer them on the pastry sheet. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake about 20 minutes, until pastry is golden and puffed. Garnish with chives. Cut into squares and serve.

Serves 12.

 


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