Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!
Nutritional and Other Information
About Pears from
the Barren County Farmers' Market




Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

One of the greatest pleasures in the world has to be biting into a ripe pear. It is like biting into sweet butter. In the United States, the pear is almost as popular as the apple to which it is related but pears are not consumed in the same quantities as apples because they are not as hardy. They are more susceptible to fireblight which occurs in humid areas like the eastern part of the country. There aren't many growers there as yet but newer varieties are less susceptible so pear production may get bigger in the future.

Commercial pear production is concentrated in the Northwest United States. Washington State grows nearly half of the nation’s total pear production. There are three basic types of pears grown in the United States. The European or French pears include popular varieties such as Bartlett, Bosc and D’Anjou. Asian pears are also known as “apple-pears” because of their apple-like texture. Oriental hybrid varieties range from gritty in texture to dessert quality.

Pears probably originated near the Black and Caspian Seas. French and English colonists brought pears to America and the first record of pears in the North America was in Massachusetts in 1630. Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

European pears, Pyrus communis, are the type most commonly seen in the supermarkets. These pears are picked when mature but before they are ripe, then they are exposed to a chilling period, and then ripened. These pears are one of the few fruits that will get ripe off the tree.

Asian pears are sometimes marketed as "Sand pears", "Chinese pears", "Japanese pears", or "apple pears". Asian pears are usually fairly round and ripen on the tree. The flesh is usually white, crisp, sweet, and juicy. Asian pears are best eaten after being held in the refrigerator for a day or two.

European pears are available year-round; peak season - August through December. Asian Pears are available August through December.

Selecting a quality product

Look for pears that are firm, not soft, free of blemishes or bruises, with intact stems. To see if your pear is ready to eat, apply gentle pressure to the stem end of the pear with your thumb and if it yields slightly it is ready. Most pears will change color as they ripen and some will develop a sweet fragrance.

Tips on Storage

Unripe pears should be placed in a paper bag at room temperature until ripe. Ripe pears should be refrigerated, unwashed, for up to 3 days. If you choose to hold off the ripening process, the fruit should be refrigerated and will hold three to four weeks until ready to ripen. When you are ready for it to get ripe, take it out and leave at room temperature. Once ripe, a pear will not last much more than a couple of days, even in the refrigerator. If the pear's texture is coarse, woody, or gritty, it has been left too long on the tree.

Tips on Preparation

Pears are excellent eaten out of hand with or without the peel, which contains some of the fruit's fiber. For other uses, a standard apple corer and a vegetable peeler will prepare the pear for dishes that require clean halves or chunks. To prevent darkening of the fruit, sprinkle the cut pears with lemon juice. When selecting pears for cooking, choose ones that are not yet fully ripe since they will hold their shape better for poaching or baking.




Recipes

Pear-Cornmeal Crunch Cake

Yield: 16 Servings

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup stick margarine or butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pear
1 cup fat-free sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 lg egg
1 lg egg white
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350ø.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour and next 5 ingredients (flour through ginger) in a large bowl, and cut in margarine with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Remove 3/4 cup flour mixture, and place in a small bowl. Stir in pecans; set pecan mixture aside. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt to remaining flour mixture, and stir in pears. Combine sour cream, vanilla, lemon rind, egg, and egg white; stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Pour cake batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray, and top with pecan mixture. Bake at 350o for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Yield: 16 servings.




Pear Upside-Down Honey Spice Cake
Makes 12 servings

Honey-Spice Cake:

9 tablespoons butter
16 ounces (1-1/3 cup) honey
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cup (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pear Topping:

4 ripe Bartlett pears
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Butter a 10 x 2-inch round cake pan (do not use a shallower pan - the cake will over-flow).

Peel the pears. Cut into quarters lengthwise and remove the cores. Cut each quarter in half lengthwise. Place the sugar in a large sauté pan and place over medium heat. When the sugar begins to melt, stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir and cook until all the lumps of sugar are dissolved and the sugar syrup is a light amber color - this will only take a minute or two. Remove the pan from the heat and add the 3 tablespoons of butter - be careful, the hot caramel will sputter when the butter is added. Stir until the butter is incorporated.

Working quickly, pour the hot caramel into the prepared cake pan, tilting the pan to completely cover the bottom. Being careful not to burn your fingers on the hot caramel, fan the pears in a circle around the edge of the cake pan, fill in the center with the remaining 6 or 7 pear slices. If the caramel hardens before the pears are in place, set the pan over low heat (or in the oven) to soften the caramel. It is important that the pears are “stuck” in the caramel as it sets up as the batter is quite thin, and the pears will float if they are not “attached” to the caramel. Set the pan aside.

Put the 9 tablespoons of butter and the honey in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Gently warm until the butter is melted - do not let the honey boil. Whisk to combine, set aside. In a small bowl, combine the egg, milk and vanilla. Set aside.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the honey/butter mixture over the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add the egg mixture and whisk until well combined. Pour the batter over the pears. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.

Serve slices of cake with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream, drizzled with a little honey.




Pear Pudding Cake

Yield: 4 Servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
16 oz pears, canned; drained, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup boiling water
Ice cream or Cool Whip optional)

In large mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add milk; beat until smooth. Stir in pears and pecans. Turn into an ungreased 2-quart casserole.

In bowl combine brown sugar, butter and boiling water; pour evenly over batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve hot with ice cream.




Roasted Pears with Gorgonzola

2 riped pears, peeled, halved & cored
1 oz. Gorgonzola
2 tbsp. non-fat ricotta
1 tbsp. Grand Marnier

1. Spray a non-stick baking dish and place pears with cut side down and roast for 20 minutes or until tender.

2. Combine the gorgonzola with the ricotta and grand mariner and blend well.

3. Divide pears on four serving plates and 1/4 of the cheese mixture on each plate and let melt slowly.




Pear And Blue Cheese Pizza

Yield: 4 Servings

4 oz double-cream blue cheese; at room temperature
     (Gorgonzola or other suitable cheeses will also work)
2 whole 7 - 8" pizza crust rounds
2 whole fresh ripe pears
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp dried thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (f). Spread the blue cheese on the pizza crusts. Core the pears and cut them lengthwise into thin slices. Arrange the slices of pear on top of the cheese. Drizzle with the honey and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of thyme over each pizza. Bake the tarts on the bottom rack of the oven for about 8 minutes, until heated through. Then place under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes longer to brown the pears lightly. Cut each tart into 8 wedges and serve warm. Makes 4-5 servings.

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