Harvest at Hand: Autumn and Winter Pears
As the leaves change colors and nights grow longer, luscious pears appear at farmer’s markets and grocery stores. While shoppers spot Bartlett pears as early as late summer, the peak of pear season is in fall and winter.
Types of Pears
Bartlett is the most common pear as well as the familiar variety found canned. It is juicy and sweet. Many consider the smooth and sweet flesh of the Comice pear the best for eating, and they’re excellent with cheese. The sweet and juicy Anjou pear is ideal for both eating and cooking. The famous Bosc is a winter pear great for eating and cooking, with creamy white flesh and yellowish brown matte skin. Seckel pears are small and sweet, with olive green skin. The grain of their flesh means they’re better for cooking.
Bartlett pears will ripen from yellow to green, often with a wash of red. Most other types of pears do not change appearance when ripening. Avoid any with bruises or very marred skin.
Buy pears when they’re unripe, and then allow them to ripen off the tree, a few days before you plan to eat or cook with them. Pears are sensitive to carbon dioxide so don’t store them in a bag. Instead, let them ripen on the counter or in a bowl.
Cooking with Pears
Poaching is a classic way to cook pears. In addition to the simplicity of poaching, it is ideal if the pears haven’t had time to ripen and are still hard, because the sweet, steaming poaching liquid will soften them.
by Cesca Janece Waterfield
Poached Pears in Cinnamon Ginger Sauce
Approved by the American Diabetic Association
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
- 6 Bosc or Anjou pears, slightly under-ripe, peeled, halved, and cored
- 2 lemons, cut in half
- 6 cups water
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 8 quarter-sized slices fresh ginger, minced, or smashed with flat sided knife
- 1 tbsp. minced candied ginger
- Rub pear halves with cut lemon to prevent browning and set aside. Combine water, sugar, cinnamon and ginger in large non aluminum pan. Heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- Add pears and heat until liquid almost boils. Reduce heat until liquid is just under a boil and poach pears until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes. (Knife will pierce center easily.) Remove pears with slotted spoon and let cool slightly. Arrange cooked pears on serving dish or in individual serving bowls.
- Remove ginger and cinnamon from poaching liquid and reheat liquid until boiling. Cook until liquid is reduced to thick syrup, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly. Pour warm syrup over pears. Sprinkle with candied ginger and serve. You may also serve with scoops of vanilla or ginger ice cream.
Protein: 1 g
Sodium: 8 mg
Fat: 1 g
Carbohydrates: 15 g
Exchanges: 1-1/2 Fruit, 1/2 Bread