What’s crunchy or soft, sweet, juicy, really good for you and included in diets for millennia?
Consumption of pears has been documented even in 1000 BC and the fruit remains a classic, according to Marshfield Clinic Health System Dietitian Chrisanne Urban. With pear season approaching it’s time to indulge.
Increase your pear knowledge
“Pears are native to Europe and Asia with over 100 different varieties,” Urban said. “They have been crossbred to get the best varieties to grow, improving their characteristics even today. And, most varieties popular now came from the 17th and 18th centuries.”
China, the top pear producer, grows about three-quarters of this crop worldwide. The No. 1 producer in the U.S. is Washington state. Half our country’s pears, mainly 10 varieties, are grown in Washington or Oregon.
“Pears are in the rose family but so are apples, cherries, almonds, peaches and apricots,” she said. “Like bananas and avocados, they don’t ripen on the tree. We pick them not ripe, hard and not flavorful, and then we let them ripen off the tree. “
To ripen pears, Urban suggests leaving them at room temperature or placing them in a paper bag. Check them every day. To slow the ripening process put them in the refrigerator. Pears do not freeze well and will break down when thawed.
Nutrient wise, they’re like any fruit or vegetable, she said. “Eating them can help decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes as part of a well-balanced diet. Pears are high in fiber. A medium pear has 5-7 grams of fiber and that’s good. They are filled with water-soluble fiber which helps decrease cholesterol.”
An average pear has:
- 100 calories
- 5 grams of fiber
- No fat, no protein
- 25 grams of carbs
- Vitamin C and potassium, with a little bit of copper
Also, Urban said, you may be surprised to learn that it’s natural for pears to have brown spots, called russeting.
In 2011, concerns arose about arsenic levels in pear juice. With most pears produced in China, the concern focused on processing standards. The United States looked at safety, she said, for pear juice, pear concentrate and other fruit juices and made certain they were safe. If consumers still have concerns, she said, they should choose organic products.
How to prepare a pear?
“You can just eat a pear,” Urban suggested. “You can grill them, put them in soups, salsas, pasta salad. Put sliced pear on a burger. Just remember that pear will brown if you cut it in slices so you may have to add lemon or lime to keep the color.”
Try this recipe
Strawberry, Apple, and Pear Spinach Salad
Prep time: 15 minutes
4 cups spinach
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 apple, sliced
1 pear, sliced
Apple Cider Poppy Seed Dressing:
½ cup apple cider
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
¼ cup feta cheese
¼ cup chopped pecans
In a large bowl, combine spinach, strawberries, apple and pear.
In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider, olive oil, honey and poppy seeds. Pour over salad and toss.
Top with feta cheese and chopped pecans.
Recipe by Alyssa Rivers, The Recipe CriticPrint this recipe