Yeah! We’re pears and proud, and pleased to meet you. You can tell we enjoy P words. Can you think of any more that could describe us? Well, to start you off - we’re pome fruit - like the apple, nashi and quince, to whom we’re related. And, of course, we’re pear-shaped with a distinct waist tapering to the stem, but we can come in various sizes, shapes and colours. I think I’ve run out of p’s for the moment but you continue thinking about them while I tell you the rest of our story.
Our skin is slightly rough, yellowish when ripe, and encloses a crisp, juicy, white flesh. In our centre is a core which encloses our seeds. We can be round, conical, oval, or long and our skin colour can range from green, yellow to red - with or without brown russetting. Our flesh colour is normally white to creamy-white.
We’re available most of the year.
Did you know?
• Winter pears are rich in levulose sugar, a valuable aid to diabetics
• Victoria grows more pears than anywhere else in Australia
• We’re another member of the rose family (like apricots and plums)
• We’ve been eaten for thousands of years.
Why Pears Are Good To Eat
• While our skin colour varies from green to yellow to brown, the nutritional value of our white flesh is not significantly different as far as minerals and vitamins go, but some varieties are sweeter because their natural sugar content is higher. The sugar is mainly present as fructose.
• We have a low GI which means our carbohydrate is digested slowly and gives you a prolonged source of energy.
• We contain vitamin C and some vitamin E plus small quantities of other vitamins and minerals.
• We’re a very good source of dietary fibre.
• We’re lower in potassium than most fruits and this is useful for some people who must have a low-potassium diet because of particular kidney problems.
• 100g of pear flesh has 225-265 kJ. The highest values are for brown-skinned pears.
How They are Grown and Harvested
We grow on large, 12-15 metre, pyramid-shaped deciduous trees. Our parent tree has green, oval to heart-shaped leaves and clusters of wine-red flowers. It prefers a moderate climate that is not too hot nor too cold. It needs to have deep, well-drained, fertile soil due to its large root structure.
We develop our best flavour when we ripen off the tree. We’re generally picked when green, firm and mature just prior to being soft and ripe. We’re picked by hand as our skin, although firm, is very sensitive to bruising.
Choose those of us which are firm and plump with a characteristic colour for our variety. Avoid any with damaged skin, soft spots or dull colour.
How to Keep Pears
Ripen us at room temperature for 3-5 days. When ripe store us in the refrigerator. Use as soon as possible.
Prime Growing Areas
History of Pears
We European pears are native of temperate Europe and have been cultivated there since ancient times. Our most important growing areas have always been in France, Germany and Belgium from which countries the ancestors of many modern varieties were developed.
Pear trees were purchased at Cape Town, South Africa, in 1787 by the First Fleet on its voyage to Australia. These trees were planted within a few weeks of arrival and took root and established themselves soon afterwards.
Fun Ways to Eat and Cook Pears
Just wash and eat, with or without the skin, but not the core. We are a versatile fruit, great for school lunches or just a snack, with cheese, in fruit salads, fritters, tarts, cakes, salads, with meat or curries. Brush with a little lemon or lime juice if not eating cut pears immediately.
Although all varieties can be cooked some are better cooked than others. We can be poached, grilled, baked, sauteed, microwaved or barbecued and can be substituted for apples in most recipes.
Have fun trying some of these pear ideas:
Pear And Bacon Rolls
Brush thick slices of pear, with or without skin, with a little sweet chilli sauce. Wrap in a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Grill or barbecue and serve as party finger food or just a snack.
Peel and remove cores from 4 pears. Cook in boiling water for about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and pat dry with paper towel. Whisk 1 egg white until soft peaks form, then slowly whisk in 50g castor sugar until meringue is stiff. Stuff pears with chopped dates and put in ovenproof dish. Cover completely with meringue and bake at 190ÌC for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Peel pears, cut in half and remove core. Fill with ricotta cheese and carefully turn over onto a bed of lettuce. Cover completely with mayonnaise seasoned with wasabi (Japanese horseradish) or horseradish. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and serve. Very refreshing.