by Guest Columnist Eileen Goltz
One of my favorite best childhood foodie memories was sharing the plate of sliced pears and cheese that my mom had waiting for me after a long day at grade school. I so loved the concept of sharing a healthy snack and continued the tradition with my boys. Finding out that not only were they lactose intolerant, but allergic to pears (and bananas and a few other fruits I’d been giving them on a regular basis) put kind of a kink in my good mom armor. Needless to say, they ate other stuff after school and I ate my pears all by myself. My boys are now men, have moved on to other locations and feed themselves,so I’ve decided to bring back the pear with a vengeance.
Pears are a super delicious fall fruit that are related to apples and can often be substituted for them. Like apples, the color of the skin of the different varieties of pears range from yellow to green to brown and red or a combination of two or more of the colors. The inside fruit is cream colored, juicy, and runs the gamut from tart to sweet. They’re a terrific source of fiber and vitamin C for only 100 calories per serving. Add to the fact that they’re sodium free, fat free, cholesterol free, and you have one excellent fruit.
Pears, like apples, come in a multitude of sizes and types. There are two main varieties: the bell shaped European varieties and the round Asian pears. The most popular varieties available in your grocery or farmers markets include, but are not limited to:
• Anjou pears: Red and green, sweet can be cooked
• Asian pears: Round and crunchy, great raw
• Bartlett pears: The juiciest of the pears, great raw, not for cooking
• Bosc pears: Great raw or cooked. These are the ones with brownish skin
• Comice pears: Great raw
• Seckel pears: Smaller, tart and have a green/red skin. Can be cooked
To find the best pears, look for ones that give a little when pressed at their neck and have a slight floral fragrance. Most people don’t know that pears actually ripen off the tree and if they’re hard when you buy them, they will soften when left at room temperature or stored in a sealed paper bag with a banana for a few days.
The following recipes are all yummy and can be used to introduce your youngsters to the joy of pears, as well as reminding you that sometimes a simple plate of cheese and fruit is all you need to bring back the best of your childhood.
This helpful Pear Guide, from the USA Pears Burea, lists pear types, seasons, and suggested usage of USA grown pears.
About the Author
Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics for various newspapers, magazines and websites across the U.S., Canada, and South Africa as well as the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of Perfectly Parve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen's blog at CuisinebyEileen.com.