This is the time of year we reacquaint ourselves with the more sturdy and rustically beautiful fruits of winter. Pears are among my favorite with their whimsical shapes and variety of color.
In this week’s box you will enjoy the most common of all pears; the Bartlett and the king of cooking pears; the Bosc. A few of you (Fruit Variety and Gourmet Variety Boxes and perhaps Custom Box) will also find the oddest of the pear family waiting to be discovered inside the box; the Asian pear.
Pears are one of the worlds oldest and most beloved fruits. Five thousand years ago pears were a valuable commodity and because of their long storage life were traded in many places of the ancient world. Well known Greek poet Homer lauds pears as a “gift from the Gods” in The Oddessy. Later pears were brought to eastern regions of the Americas only to find failure. Fortunately pioneers of the 1800’s brought the plant to the Pacific Northwest where they thrive in the western climate. Even today pears from Washington and Oregon are said to rival those cultivated in France and Belgium which are prized for their buttery flavor.
California is also a major producer of pears and is the primary producer of the Bartlett variety. Bartlett’s are considered the classic pear. These all purpose pears are widely available and can be cooked or eaten out of hand. Bell shaped with yellow-green skin Bartlett’s are aromatic and sweet when ripe.
The Bosc variety is characterized by it’s beautiful russet tone and elegant teardrop shape. The Bosc is a wonderful pear for cooking because of it’s lower juice yield and dense, buttery flesh.
The Asian Pear is round with skin colors ranging from light yellow to dark brown. Unlike other pears, Asian pears do not soften as they ripen. They remain crisp and very juicy. A common alternative name is the Apple-Pear derived from the crisp apple like flesh. Asian pears were once a rarity in the U.S. but due to popularity have become widely available. Another pear variety you are likely to see in the near future is the Anjou. With a yellowish-green skin that can blush slightly amber when ripe, Anjou pears are juicy and appropriate for cooking or eating out of hand. Pears are a great snack. One pear has about 100 calories and 4 1/2 grams of fiver. Pears are also a significant source of Vitamin C and potassium.
Originally posted in October 2006 newsletter.
Pear & Maple Cashew Salad
3 cups chopped lettuce
1 apple, chopped
1 pear, chopped
2/3 cup maple roasted cashews
4 oz. grated Swiss cheese
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup salad oil
1/8 cup sugar
2 T. finely chopped onion
1 t. ground mustard 1 t. poppy seeds
Directions: In a large salad bowl combine the salad ingredients. In a small bowl whisk together the cider vinegar and salad oil. When combined add the sugar, onion, mustard and poppy seeds. Toss dressing mixture together with salad ingredients and serve.