The names of certain foods sound so sweet we cannot resist them. Say “pear” and savor the word.
The top four pears sold in America are the Bartlett, Bosc, D’Anjou and the Comice, with the Asian pear making inroads in specialty markets. Each type offers something special.
Bartlett: Buy them green and let them ripen in a paper bag on a kitchen counter. As soon as the skin softens, sugar is at its peak. Don’t miss this one for eating whole with a plate of aged Swiss cheese.
Bosc: These oddballs have a leathery skin that turns off many, but give them a chance. Most are eaten peeled, revealing their sweet, white flesh. It’s not quite as juicy as the Bartlett but full of fiber and vitamins. Good with white wine and scones.
Comice: The smallest of pears, a personal favorite of marauding squirrels. And for good reason. These are sweetest and juiciest pears with a texture that only can be described as creamy. They often are reserved for holiday gift boxes and command the highest prices. Some varieties grow to medium size. Excellent eaten alone, or with a friend.
D’Anjou: This is the largest of pears, some arriving in softball size. They are almost inedible hard and always require ripening at home. Then you’re left with moderately sweet fruit with tempered flavor. D’Anjous quite often are bought for their color to brighten fruit baskets. They are well suited for grilling.
Most pears are shipped unripened, requiring a little effort from their consumers. Ripen them unwashed and in a paper bag at room temperature. It will take several days before they are ready. A pear is ripe when its top feels soft.
Store in paper bags until ripe. Do not refrigerate. To freeze: Wash, core and slice. Mix 23/4 cups of sugar with 4 cups water, boil. Heat pears in boiling syrup for two minutes. Drain and cool, reserving syrup. Place pears in freezer bags and cover with syrup. Kept frozen, they will last indefinitely.
Fresh pears were impacted by poor growing conditions and are up 20 percent this year. The U.S. harvest is down 8 percent, and exports have reached record levels. Average retail price nationwide is $1.52 a pound, according to the USDA.
6 Bosc pears
2 sticks cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 quart dry white wine or non-alcoholic sparkling cider
11/2 cups sugar
Tie spices in a cheesecloth bag. Add to wine and sugar. Bring to boil, turn heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes.
Peel, core, and halve pears and simmer 10 minutes in wine, remove from heat. Allow to steep in wine at least 20 minutes.
Page 2 of 2 - May be served warm or chilled.
Excellent with slices of prosciutto ham, heated brie cheese and thick slices of Italian bread.
4 large, ripe D’Anjou pears
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons walnuts
1/2 cup butterscotch sauce (the ice-cream topping)
Oil rack of grill. Peel pears and halve them lengthwise. Toss with lime and sugar. Grill for four minutes and turn over. Grill for 5 minutes or until tender. Warm butterscotch sauce and serve in small dishes on the side for dipping or pouring.
For a salad, serve with walnuts and goat cheese.
4 large Bartlett pears, peeled, seeded and halved lengthwise
1 cup sour cream
8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
8 lettuce leaves
Combine sour cream, pineapple, coconut and pecans. Place pears on lettuce leaves cut tops up, spoon pineapple mixture into the center of each.
Contact Jim Hillibish at firstname.lastname@example.org.