A Pearfect Time of Year – by Cynthia Goch ~ as written for Christina Pirello at Christina Cooks Sunday, October 30, 2011
This time of year, the apple gets a lot of attention. But what about the pear? The harvest season is one of apples…and…pears.
Pears are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and sodium. They are cholesterol and fat free.
The ripening of a pear occurs from the inside out, as beauty and sweetness come from within. Test the ripeness by gently pressing your thumb against the skin near the stem of the pear. If the pear slightly yields, it is ripe and sweet.
If you picked or purchased pears recently, and they are not quite ripe, place your unripe pears in a bowl or paper bag and let stand at room temperature. Check them daily by testing the top of the pear for ripeness. Once they test for ripeness, they may be refrigerated to slow ripening.
While there are many colors and varieties of pears, you cannot depend on color to tell when a pear is ripe. Some varieties turn color from green to yellow as they ripen, while some red varieties turn from dark red to bright red, while the colors and shades of others don’t change much at all. Try taste-testing a few varieties to find your preferences, fill a bowl to decorate your table, and enjoy this festive harvest season.
Each year, my grandmother canned fresh pears for the cold months ahead from my grandfather’s pear tree, and we enjoyed them all year. My memories of running past the pear tree every day to get to my grandmother’s porch, provided for a sometimes ‘sticky’ situation as the bumblebees enjoyed a feast with the fallen pears.
My favorite, though, remains the sickle pear. Aside from the health benefits of a nutritious snack, I carefully packed them in my little girl’s lunchbox each day at this time of year. They are just the right size for smaller hands and mouths. Now, when I pick up a sickle pear, my memories of precious days gone by come right back to me…
3 medium to large pears
½ cup dried cranberries
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup of apple cider
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash pears well, and slice vertically from the stem down. With a small scoop or spoon, remove the seeds and the root of the stem. Place the six halves in an ovenproof baking dish and replace the seed opening with dried cranberries, dividing evenly. Pour the apple cider over top of the pears and sprinkle with cinnamon (if preferred, sprinkle granola on top for a ‘crunch’ texture). Cover the filled baking dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until pears are fork-tender.