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Kitchen Notes: Pears
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Cooking For Engineers



Joined: 10 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:41 am    Post subject: Kitchen Notes: Pears Reply with quote


Article Digest:
Pears are pomes (fruits with distinct cores of seeds from the Rose family) which have been cultivated for thousands of years. Although they are cousins of the apple, pears are much more delicate. Once ripe, pears should be consumed within days even with the aid of refrigeration.

Pear varieties can be classified many ways (creamy/sandy, raw/cooking), but I choose to classify them into two distinct categories: European or buttery varieties and Asian varieties. European pears have been bred to be more aromatic with a smooth and buttery texture. Asian pears are crisp and have a milder flavor.

European pears
The two major types of European pears are the Anjou (sometimes called D'Anjou) and the Bartlett (or Williams). The Anjou variety is a hardy winter variety available from autumn through spring. The Bartlett variety is sweeter, but usually only available from late summer through autumn. The Bartlett withstands cooking well and is the variety most often used in canning and is also available as a dried fruit.

Other notable European pear varieties are the Bosc and the Comice. Bosc pears are firm but not crunchy, and its sturdy structure lends itself to cooking methods such as baking and poaching (as well as eating fresh). The Comice is often regarded as the sweetest and strongest "pear" flavored variety.

European pears are never ripened on the tree because they produce a mealy, gritty texture when allowed to do so. They are picked while they are still firm which also helps the delicate fruit to survive transportation. Store pears in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process. A few days before you wish to eat the pears, take them out and allow them to ripen at room temperature. Placing pears in paper bags and rotating them each day can help speed ripening due to the trapped ethylene gas. Do not place pears in plastic bags because carbon dioxide could build up resulting in deterioration of the core of the fruit. When pears are ripe, the flesh at the stem gives a little when you lightly press down on it. Waiting until the middle is soft usually results in an overripe pear (because pears ripen from the core outward). After a pear is ripe, you may store it in the refrigerator for only a few days before the fruit dies and begins to deteriorate.

Asian pears
Asian pears are crisp and juicy but with less sweetness than their European counterparts. Unlike European pears, Asian pears are ripened on the tree and can be eaten immediately after picking. In most cases, Asian pears keep in the refrigerator for up to three months (and in the case of the 20th Century variety, up to six months), but if kept too long, they develop a strong wine-like flavor. The skin of Asian pears is quite delicate and sometimes they are packaged in individual foam containers to protect them. (Asian pears have a relatively limited supply and are usually more expensive, so the packagers take extra care to provide perfect looking pears to the market.)

When selecting Asian pears at the market, pick unblemished specimens that are uniform in shape. The pears should be firm and free of any soft spots.

Some properties of pears
The flesh of all pears oxidizes quickly after cutting. To prevent rapid browning, the pear should be cooked or rubbed with an acid (such as lemon, lime, or orange juice) or alcohol. For eating fresh, it is recommended to cut the pears immediately before serving.

Pears have a high water content and are useful for quenching thirst. In addition, they are rich in fiber (a fresh pear is about 3% dietary fiber by weight) and is a decent source of potassium.

Consuming unripe pears are said to have a laxative effect while ripe pears are reputed to be a diuretic and a sedative. Because pears contain a small amount of sorbitol (a sugar alcohol the body cannot process but bacteria in the digestive system can break down for energy), eating too many pears may result in some intestinal discomfort and flatulence.

European pears
<th>Variety</th><th>Description</th>
AnjouA light green or yellow-green French variety with a juicy, buttery texture.
[IMG]
BartlettA golden yellow (when ripe) English variety with buttery texture. A red variety also exists with the same flavor and texture. Good for cooking as well as eating fresh.
[IMG]
Bon chretienAnother name for a Bartlett pear
BoscA brown-yellow Belgian variety with a juicy, granular texture. The skin is also thicker and tougher than other varieties. Excellent for cooking.
[IMG]
ClappA large, oval, greenish-yellow variety from the United States. Texture is slightly grainy and gritty. Very short storage life. Also known as Clapp's Favorite.
ComiceA large French variety of yellow-green color. Areas of brown pigment start to form on the skin when the pear is ripe. The texture is juicy and buttery. Often regarded as sweetest and more pear flavored of all pears. Surface discoloration or blemishes are common and do not affect flavor.
[IMG]
ConferenceNamed after the 1885 International Pear Conference where the variety took first prize. The shape is quite narrow and color is yellow and brown splotches. The texture is buttery and juicy.
PackhamA greenish yellow Australian variety with juicy and buttery flesh. The product of a cross between a Bartlett and a Yvedale Saint-Germain pear.
[IMG]
ForelleA small, golden-yellow with red blush variety.
Passe-CrassaneA green, round French variety with a slightly granular and soft texture. The product of a cross between a pear and a quince.
RochaA brown spotted, yellow Belgian variety with a brown neck. The texture is soft and buttery when ripe.
SeckelA small, dull green variety that is a cross between European and Asian pears. It is very sweet with a grainy texture. Smallest pear variety and noteworthy for it's perfect snacking size.
WilliamsAnother name for a Bartlett pear

Asian pears
<th>Variety</th><th>Description</th>
20th CenturyA round, yellow Japanese variety that has easily bruised skin. Most popular Asian pear and possible the best flavored Asian pear. Despite it's delicate skin, this variety can be refrigerated for up to six months.
ChojuroA medium to golden brown variety.
Dasui Li / Shin LiVery large, greenish yellow pears developed at the University of California
HosuiA very large, bronze skinned variety. It is noted for its low acidity and juicy sweetness.
[IMG]
ShinseikiA round, yellow Japanese variety.
[IMG]
ShinsuiA medium sized, brown Japanese variety.
[IMG]
Ya LiA large pear-shaped (not round), green variety. Sweet, but not as strongly flavored as other varieties.

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Biscuit Girl
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How cool! I love how you show the different variety of pears. Next time I go to the market I'll be a little more pear-wise.
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krylonultraflat
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

asian pears are amazingly good in salads.
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Alice
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, your site is SOOOO interesting! You are my new favorite lunch time companion!!!!
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Kristi
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had my first asian pear last year from our fruit CSA and it was one of the best fruits I had ever eaten! I wish we could find them in the stores around here.
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AmyKnight
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Informative and artistic!
Thank you for giving us the 411 in such an easy package!
Keep up the fine work!
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Jen Savage
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have any pear pie recipes?
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have about 6 small very ripe pears in my fridge that i don't want to waste. anyone have any cooking or baking ideas?
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was thinking that the Rocha variety was portuguese....
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 7:03 pm    Post subject: Subarashii Kudamono Asian Pears Reply with quote

Subarashii Kudamono Asian pears are the best tasting pieces of fruit I have ever had! I can't wait until harvest season!
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Burr Zimmerman
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:28 pm    Post subject: uses for those pears / recipes Reply with quote

One of my favorite uses for pears is as a topping on Cheesecake. I slice the pears finely, sautee in butter and finely ground black pepper (yes, it tastes good!) until they caramelize very slightly, add simple syrup and cornstarch and bring to a boil. The amount of sugar and starch depends on the pear and the application. For a cheesecake topping that sets, you can use gelatin too, or for a sauce, use less corn starch. At the last moment, salt to taste (salt enhances the flavor -- a little touch makes it taste more 'pear-y').

This dessert topping can be used for anything, but cheesecake is my favorite. It works best with Bartletts or Anjou -- I've never tried it with Asians (those don't last anywhere near long enough in my house!).

Best of luck,
Burr
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rachel1919
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 2:29 am    Post subject: Does anyone know what kind of pear this is? Reply with quote

I have a pear tree and am curious to know what type of pear this is. All I know is that it is some sort of Asian pear. They are super juicy kinda sweet and a little gritty/sandy as you get closer to the core. They are huge, each one weighs a pound.

http://s73.photobucket.com/albums/i233/rachel1919/ebay/?action=view&current=sept9004.jpg
http://s73.photobucket.com/albums/i233/rachel1919/ebay/?action=view&current=sept9001.jpg
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EngineeringProfessor



Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Posts: 77

PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 3:54 am    Post subject: Pears Reply with quote

Without question, the very best pears are those delivered by "Harry and David". Succulent, delicate and oh, so very delicious
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pear preserve lover
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 3:22 pm    Post subject: canning pears from Louisiana?? Reply with quote

Hey, My grandfather had a pear tree in his yard in southwest Louisiana in the 60's and 70's and he made the best pear preserves from those pears. I am wondering what kind of pear this might have been. I remember them being more round than truly pear shaped, and yellowish green, and kind of rough looking - not beautiful to look at. I remember being told they were really only good for cooking and not eating raw. Does anybody have any idea what kind of pear this may have been. I'd like to plant my own tree if I can find out the type. Thanks,

Shannon
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rachel1919
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 6:28 pm    Post subject: Re: canning pears from Louisiana?? Reply with quote

pear preserve lover wrote:
Hey, My grandfather had a pear tree in his yard in southwest Louisiana in the 60's and 70's and he made the best pear preserves from those pears. I am wondering what kind of pear this might have been. I remember them being more round than truly pear shaped, and yellowish green, and kind of rough looking - not beautiful to look at. I remember being told they were really only good for cooking and not eating raw. Does anybody have any idea what kind of pear this may have been. I'd like to plant my own tree if I can find out the type. Thanks,

Shannon


Shannon, That sounds just like the pears that I am trying to figure out the name of. I live in Northern Florida. My pics are 2 up from your comment. All I know is that I have a few variations of these pears each is slightly different but they are all Asian pears. If you do a search for Asian pear trees many will show up. They are round and have the texture more like an apple than a pear. They are so crunchy that they are better off used for pies though mine are sweet enough to eat as long as they are chilled and peeled.
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