Pears – A “Go To” Nutritious Fruit
A medium-sized pear provides 24% of your daily fiber needs. Fiber is a key component in fighting various types of cancers. Not only are pears tasty, they provide many nutritional health benefits!
A Closer Look at the Pear’s Key Nutrients
Pears are among the most popular fruits in the world, and it’s no wonder why! They are an excellent source of fiber and a good source of vitamin C for only 100 calories per serving. And, they’re sodium free, fat free, and cholesterol free. That’s a lot of nutrition in one sweet and juicy package! Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the foundation for a healthy lifestyle, and pears are a delicious part of this menu. But what makes pears so healthy?
Nutrient-dense, a medium-sized pear is only 100 calories, yet provides a variety of vital minerals, vitamins, fiber and water that can help you feel full faster and for longer. Pears are fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free. Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains – particularly soluble fiber – may reduce the risk for heart disease, a disease associated with many factors.
Pears are an excellent source of fiber, with one medium-sized pear providing 6 grams of fiber, which is 24 percent of the Daily Value. Low-fat diets full of fiber-containing fruits, vegetables and grain products may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, a disease associated with many factors.
Pears are a good source of vitamin C, often called the antioxidant vitamin, which is essential for normal cell growth and repair, wound healing, metabolism, proper immune function and prevention of infectious disease.
Each medium-sized pear offers about 190 mg (5 percent Daily Value) of potassium, which is a nutrient that helps reduce the risk for high blood pressure.
In Season: August – February
Flavor Profile: Signature pear flavor with abundant juice
The Bartlett pear is unique in that its color turns from bright green to golden yellow as it ripens. Its creamy, sweet and aromatic flesh is perfect for eating fresh, as well as for canning or adding to salads or desserts.
The Bartlett pear is a unique pear in that its skin color brightens as it ripens, unlike other varieties of pears that show little color change as they ripen. So, how do you prefer your Bartlett pear? Do you crave it crunchy and tart? Go for it when the skin is green! How about moist and mildly sweet? Yellow-green would be for you. Do you desire a burst of super sweet juice? Then let your pear ripen until it reaches a golden yellow hue. Remember, all pears need to ripen at room temperature!
In Season: September – April
Flavor Profile: Crisp, woodsy and honey-sweet
Bosc pears are easily identified by their long, tapered necks, long stems, and skin that is naturally russeted to a cinnamon brown color. They have a dense, fragrant, honey-sweet flesh with a smooth texture that holds its shape well when heated. It is an excellent choice for eating fresh as well as for cooking.
Bosc pears are sweeter and more flavorful earlier in the ripening process than other pear varieties. As a result, the complex flavor, honey-sweetness, and juiciness of Bosc can be enjoyed before their flesh has fully softened.
Since the flesh density of Bosc is greater than other pears, it’s important to take this into consideration when determining when Bosc pears are ripe. The Check the Neck test, where gentle thumb pressure is applied near the stem end, is still the best method for checking Bosc for ripeness. However, keep in mind that Bosc will “give” less than other pears when they are ready. Sometimes, Bosc will also show a slight wrinkling at the base of the stem as well as a minimal color change as they ripen– a green hue under the russeted skin will turn more yellow. However, color change is not as reliable as Checking the Neck. Ripen Bosc pears as you would any other variety: leave them at room temperature and only refrigerate after the pears have ripened.
Here’s what you need to do to ripen your pears:
- Leave firm, unripe pears at room temperature so that they can ripen.
- Check the neck for ripeness daily, by applying gentle pressure to the neck, or stem end, of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, then it’s ripe and ready to eat!
- Once the pear is ripe, it can be refrigerated to slow the ripening process and saved for use up to five days later.
To Prevent Browning
Keep a fresh fruit fresh.
Like many fruits, the flesh of cut or peeled pears will eventually brown. This natural oxidation process won’t affect the taste or quality. However, to keep your pears looking appetizing and to prevent browning, dip them in a mild solution of 50% water and 50% lemon juice!
Remember, don’t refrigerate an unripe pear!
Ripened pears can be used at once or put under refrigeration (35º to 45º F) until you want to use them. Refrigeration will delay further ripening but will not stop it altogether, giving you adequate time to include fresh pears in your menu planning. Remember, pears need to ripen at room temperature, so don’t refrigerate an unripe pear!
Flavor well worth the wait
Place under-ripe pears in a fruit bowl at room temperature near other ripening fruit like bananas, which naturally give off ethylene and will help speed up the ripening process. And if you find yourself with a few too many overripe pears, blend them into smoothies, soups, sauces and purees!
Wash Before Eating
Be Food Safe - All it takes is cold water
Thoroughly wash pears immediately prior to eating or preparation. Under cold, drinkable water, use your clean hands or a soft-bristled produce scrub brush to gently but vigorously scrub the entire exterior of the pear, taking extra care to cleanse the indentations near the stem (at the top) and calyx (at the bottom) of the pear. The total process will take 15 – 20 seconds. Washing the entire exterior of the pear will help to eliminate dirt and/or commonly occurring bacteria that may be found on the fruit’s surface. Wash fruit even if you plan on peeling it.