Grow a Pear

Just when you thought the fresh juicy fruits of summer were gone, pears plop in to save the day. Learn about this luscious fruit and then get crackin’ in the kitchen to whip up some pear-fectly delicious dishes.

Get yourself out of your pasta rut by mixing up creamy rigatoni pasta with crunchy walnuts and sweet, fresh pears for vibrant flavor in every bite.

Photo by Abby Gust

As summer fades into fall, most dinner tables are breaking out the turkeys, squash and root veggies, but you don’t have to give up your summer fruit fetish just yet. Luckily, pears are in season and are worth rediscovering. Lately, consumption of pears has dropped. “Here in the United States, I think they’re kind of an overlooked fruit,” says John Aselage, of A & A Orchards (aandaorchard.com), an Arkansas orchard just a few miles from the Missouri border that sells peaches and apples and has apricot, cherry and pear trees growing.

Aselage says pears aren’t as popular because the finicky, fruity nature of a lot of varieties grown in the West makes them hard to grow in the Midwest. Our region’s wet weather makes pear trees susceptible to fire blight, a devastating disease. The trees have a short blooming time, and have a slightly unpleasant aroma which doesn’t attract a lot of pollinators—think bees and butterflies and other buzzy bugs that fertilize the flowers. Aselage grows a Magness variety of pears, which are known for having a smooth texture and a sweet, buttery flavor and were originally planted in the region by Gerber for baby food production back in the 1960s. But as the adage goes, good things (and flavors!) are worth the wait, and for the Magness variety, that wait is about 10 years before trees bear fruit. “There’s a saying that goes, ‘You plant pears for your heirs,’” Aselage says. 

But when the trees fruit, the flavors are unbeatable, and Aselage knows a thing or two about getting luscious flavors. “I love fruit, obviously; I grow it,” he says. According to the Pear Bureau Northwest, pears, unlike most other fruit, actually ripen better off the tree. Aselage says they’re typically harvested at a very high pressure—a fruit industry measure of firmness—so they can withstand storage and shipping. You don’t want to eat a pear as soon as you pick it up from the store. Keep them in the fridge to slow the ripening process if you plan on waiting a while to eat them. If you want to start nibbling right away, set them out on the counter for a few days to ripen. Most people try to eat pears when they’re underripe, which Aselage says is why a lot of people aren’t big fans of the fruit. The ideal ripeness is when the flesh yields and bruises at the slightest pressure at the stem, which gives you a soft and drippy texture like a peach—and that is when he says the fruit achieves its fullest flavors. Some varieties of pears, like Bartletts, will even turn yellow when they’ve reached peak ripeness. 

Bartletts and Magness aren’t the only delicious varieties you’ll find on grocery shelves. Bosc, Comice Seckel and Anjou pears are also common and are what the industry labels as dessert pears, which means they can be eaten fresh and have sweet flavor and smooth texture. Some varieties also work for processing in canning, pureeing or jarring because they’re slightly more crisp and mature in later fall and early winter. Whatever pear variety you choose, we’ve got plenty of recipes to help you gobble up this season’s picks.

 


Photo by Brandon Alms

Pear and Blue Cheese Turkey Sandwich

Recipe courtesy of Nearly Famous Deli & Pasta House

 

Ingredients for Sandwich
2 slices sourdough bread
Butter
4–5 ounces smoked turkey, sliced
1 slice Swiss cheese
2 slices of bacon, cooked
1 pear, sliced
Blue cheese mayonnaise

 

To Prepare Sandwich
In a large pan or griddle over medium heat,
warm the turkey slices, placing the slice of cheese on top to melt. Butter each slice of sourdough bread and grill in the pan or griddle until golden brown. Remove bread from griddle and place turkey and cheese on one piece of bread and top with bacon and pear slices. Swipe the blue cheese mayonnaise on the other piece of bread and top the sandwich with it. Serve

 

Ingredients for Blue Cheese Mayonnaise
Crumbled blue cheese to taste 
1 ounce plain mayonnaise 

 

To Prepare the Blue Cheese Mayonnaise
In a bowl, stir the blue cheese crumbles into the mayonnaise. 

 


Photo courtesy The Food Channel

Poached Pears

Recipe courtesy of The Food Channel

 

Ingredients
6 medium firm, ripe pears
6 cups sweet red Pesach wine
⅔ cup honey
⅔ cup sugar
6 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup orange juice
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon orange zest, for garnish

 

To Prepare
Combine wine, honey, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice and cinnamon sticks in a saucepot and bring to a simmer. Peel the pears and cut a small slice from the bottom of each so they stand upright. Add pears to the liquid, cover the pot and simmer, turning pears occasionally until they become tender, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow pears to cool in the poaching liquid for approximately 1 hour. You can serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours for a darker color. Serve the pears by pooling the poaching liquid in the center of a plate or shallow bowl. Stand the pear in the center of the plate and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of orange zest. 

 


Photo courtesy The Food Channel

Caramelized Pear and Chocolate Ganache Pizza

Recipe courtesy of The Food Channel

 

Ingredients
2 small red Bartlett pears, thickly sliced, seeds and stems removed
1 12-inch prepared pizza crust, warm
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 wedge double cream cheese (such as Brie), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

 

To Prepare
Melt butter in a sauté pan and add sugar and pear slices. Sauté mixture over medium-low heat until pears are golden and caramelized. Combine heavy cream and chocolate in top of a double boiler over simmering water and cook until chocolate is smooth and melted, whisking occasionally. Keep warm. Slice warm pizza crust into eight pieces. Arrange one slice pizza crust on a plate. Top with two slices of cheese, one slice of pear, another slice of pizza crust, two slices of cheese and another slice of pear. Drizzle warm chocolate sauce over the top. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve.

 

 

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