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By Terri Hahn
Journalist 

When it comes to fall fruit, pears often take a back seat to apples

 

September 30, 2021

Pairing pears

- Pears are good in salads, where they partner well with greens, especially the bitter ones, and be sure toss in a few nuts and goat cheese for creaminess. Try slices of pear with leaves of prosciutto for an appetizer, and pair them with blue-vein cheeses and nuts on a cheese platter. Surprise guests with sautéed pears as a garnish for grilled or fatty meats such as pork and duck.

- Seasonal dessert menus welcome pears, too. Poach them in red wine, then serve with their reduced ruby syrup and top with soft drifts of whipped cream. Poach pears in white wine, and serve with a rich chocolate sauce whose fancy name is pears Belle Helene. Serve white-wine poached pears with a pureed raspberry sauce for Pears Melba.

- Let pears star in tarts, crisps, slumps and upside-down cakes. Remember, you can use a pear anywhere you can use an apple.

Source: Marlene Parish

*****

When it comes to fall fruit, pears often take a back seat to apples

By Terri Hahn

Are pears the first thing you think of when it comes to fall fruit? I'm guessing the answer is "no." Apples always seem to get more of the spotlight.

Fresh pears come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, says Cami Well, a University of Nebraska Extension Educator in Hal County. Skin colors include green, golden yellow and red. Often compared nutritionally to apples, pears hold their own. At just 100 calories, one medium pear delivers 5.5 grams of fiber, 10% of the daily value of vitamin C and 5 percent of the daily value of potassium.

Even though there are more than 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world, a few main varieties of fresh pears are seen in local grocery stores including, Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Forelle and Seckel. Each has a distinctive character, texture, and flavor. Try them all to find your favorites.

Pears do not ripen well on trees, Wells says. They are harvested mature but unripe and need to be ripened after harvest. Because pears ripen from the inside out, the best way to check for ripeness is to "check the neck for ripeness". To do this, gently press near the stem with your thumb. When it gives to gentle pressure it is ripe, juicy and ready to eat. If you wait until the pear is soft around the middle chances are it will be overripe.

To ripen a pear, place on countertop, in a bowl or paper bag. If placed near apples, pears will ripen more quickly. Store ripe pears in the refrigerator. Rinse pears in cool water and dry with paper towel before eating.

Like apples, cut pears will brown when exposed to air. For salads and other raw uses where appearance is important, dip into a mix of 1 part lemon juice and 3 parts water.

"The versatility of pears can be noticed when combined with other sweet or savory flavors," Wells says. "Pears make great snacks eaten raw or can be baked, grilled, glazed, sautéed, poached, and pickled."

Here are a few other ideas:

-- Sliced pears liven up salads, make a side to sandwiches and top cereals.

-- Pears are great baked into cobblers and provide flavor in fruit salsas.

-- Try sandwiching the fruit slices between graham crackers and peanut butter.

-- Use pears wherever you would use apples. Also try cooking them over low heat in juice or water and serve with low-fat ice cream.

This compote has a thick and sweet sauce that is mixed with fruit for a delicious dessert.

Fruit Compote

1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks

1-1/2 cups orange juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 medium banana, peeled and sliced

1 pear, sliced in cubes

2 peaches, sliced in cubes

Drain the juice from the canned pineapple into a small saucepan. Stir in orange juice and cornstarch. Blend until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Let the juice mix cool to room temperature.

While the juice mix is cooling, peel and slice the banana. Wash the pear and peaches and cut them into cubes.

Pour the cooled juice mix into a large bowl. Add the pieces of pineapple, banana, pear and peaches. Stir together.

You can serve this compote in serving dishes, or over frozen yogurt or waffles. Canned pears or peaches can also be used.

Makes 5 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 171 calories, 1 g fat, 3 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber.

Recipe from: Pennsylvania Nutrition Education

Chicken and Pear Salad

Preparation time: 15 minutes

2 cups pears, gently rubbed under cold running water and diced

1/4 cup celery, scrubbed with clean vegetable brush under running water and chopped

1/2 cup onion, scrubbed with clean vegetable brush under running water and chopped (sweet onion will be most mild)

1/4 cup raisins

1 cup cooked chicken, diced

2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well. Serve now or chill.

Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours. '

Makes 5 (1/2 cup) servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 130 calories, 2.5 g fat, 135 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate and 3 g dietary fiber.

Recipe from: Oregon State Extension

Cinnamon Baked Pears

2 ripe pears

3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

2 teaspoons honey or brown sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon dried cranberries

Cut the pears in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon or melon baller.

Place pears in a baking dish. Fill centers with chopped walnuts and drizzle about half a teaspoon of honey or brown sugar over each pear half.

Sprinkle each half with cinnamon and cranberries.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 35 minutes or until pears are soft when poked with a fork. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: (1/2 pear): 100 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate and 3 g dietary fiber.

Recipe from: Oregon State Extension

*****

Hearty Pear Breakfast Muffins

2 ripe pears

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup skim milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

Spray 16 muffin cups with cooking spray or use paper baking liners.

Peel and chop pears to measure 1-1/2 cups. Combine pears, sugar, milk, oil, egg and raisins. In a separate bowl, stir together remaining ingredients. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until blended.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Makes about 16 muffins.

Recipe from: Cami Wells

Pear and Cranberry Salad with Grilled Beef Strips

12 ounces beef flat iron steak

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups torn spinach leaves, torn

4 cups mixed salad greens

2 medium pears, cored and cut into wedges

1/4 cup dried cranberries

Salt (optional)

4 tablespoons feta cheese (optional)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Lite or nonfat raspberry vinaigrette dressing

Season steak with 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Grill, broil or cook steak in large, nonstick skillet to internal temperature of 145 degrees F (medium rare) to 160 degrees F (medium).

Meanwhile, divide greens evenly among four dinner plates. Top with pear wedges and dried cranberries.

Carve steak into thin slices and season with salt as desired. Divide steak slices on plates with salad. If desired, top each salad with feta cheese, pecans and dressing.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from: Kansas State Extension

Fig, Pear and Walnut Salad

For dressing:

1 garlic clove, chopped with a pinch of salt into a paste

1 shallot, finely diced

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Juice 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For salad:

6 dried figs, sliced into bite-sized pieces, or 4 fresh figs, quartered

4 firm pears, halved, cored and thinly sliced

1 cup toasted walnuts

8 ounces blue cheese

3 cups spinach

3 cups arugula

Mix the dressing ingredients in jar with a lid, and shake well to combine.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place salad ingredients in a large bowl, and toss together with hands. Season with a little salt.

Add dressing, and toss lightly to combine.

Makes 4 generous servings.

Recipe from: Gretchen McKay

This is a delicious pie, full of juicy chunks of ripe pear and topped with streusel, made crunchy with buttery oatmeal crumbs and almonds, says food writer Marlene Parrish. Make it now when pears are at their peak of flavor. To check for ripeness, gently push the flesh at the stem end; if it gives a bit, the pear is just right for eating or baking.

Pear Crunch Pie

5 cups cored, peeled, and sliced Bartlett pears (about 5 to 7, depending on size, and very ripe)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2/3 cup sugar (or half white and half brown sugar)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Good pinch nutmeg

Good pinch salt

1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked

1 tablespoon butter

Streusel topping:

1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 cup chopped almonds or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine pears, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside to let juices form. Prepare pastry for a 9-inch pie shell.

Dump filling into prepared pie shell and dot with butter. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare topping. With a fork, mix oats, flour, melted butter, sugar and almonds, until well combined and crumbly.

Remove pie from oven, sprinkle topping evenly over pear filling, then return the pie to the oven and continue baking for 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove to a rack to cool. Serve warm with butterscotch sauce or ice cream.

This is a classic. Drizzle, or pour if that's more your style, over any apple or pear dessert.

Butterscotch Sauce

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup light or dark corn syrup

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup heavy cream

In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Then increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat. Carefully stir in cream, standing back as the mixture can sputter; stir until the mixture is smooth. Pour into a jar. The sauce will separate upon standing; just give it a stir before using.

The sauce can keep in the fridge for up to one week.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups.

Recipes from: Marlene Parish

German butter cake - which also goes by the name gooey butter cake - seems to be one of those dishes that has many meanings to many people in many places, says recipe developer Alison Ladman.

"So why not add one more version to the mix," she asks, "this one based more on season than location, and borrowing ideas from all of the above? We incorporate pear for a cake perfect for fall. They can simply be omitted for the straight up gooey version. We also added a touch of cardamom, but feel free to use cinnamon or ginger if it's more your style. Lastly, we kept the almonds of the German butter cake, but they are easily left off if you prefer."

Gooey Butter Pear Cake

Start to finish: 2 hours (30 minutes active)

For the cake:

2 medium fresh pears, peeled, cored and diced (or 1 1/2 cups diced canned pears, patted dry)

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup milk, room temperature

1-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

For the topping:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup corn syrup

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

To finish:

Powdered sugar

Toasted sliced almonds

Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, toss the pear with the cardamom, then set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, yeast, sugar, salt, egg and flour. Mix on medium until a smooth dough has formed. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and mix until fully incorporated. Repeat with the remaining butter. This should take 6 to 8 minutes.

Scrape the dough into the prepared baking dish and, using greased hands, spread over the bottom of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle the pears over the top of the dough.

To make the topping, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugar and salt. One at a time, add the eggs, beating until well mixed. Stir in the vanilla and corn syrup, then mix in the flour. Dollop this mixture over the pear covered dough.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the center is slightly set but still jiggly. Allow to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and toasted almonds to serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Makes 16 servings.

Recipe from: Alison Ladman

Port Wine-Poached Pears

1 cup port wine

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 (2-inch) strips orange peel

1 (2-inch) strip lemon peel

1 stick cinnamon

1 whole clove

4 firm, ripe Bosc pears

Ice cream for serving, optional

Combine wine, sugar, orange peels, lemon peel, cinnamon, clove and 2 cups water in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Cut 1/4 inch from pear bottoms to make a flat surface. Peel pears and nestle them in the bottom of pan containing wine mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until a knife slides into pears with ease, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool in pan. The pears will continue to take on color as they cool in the liquid.

To serve, transfer pears, cut-side down, to 4 plates and drizzle some of the sauce from the pan over pears. Serve with ice cream if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted from: "The New York Times International Cook Book," by Craig Claiborne

Drop-Biscuit Pear and Dried Cherry Cobbler

6 medium Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup dried tart cherries

2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1-1/8 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

Pinch of ground cloves

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss pears, cherries, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of the flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and cloves in a large bowl. Transfer to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

Whisk remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Rub in butter with your fingers until a coarse meal forms. Gradually mix in 1/3 cup hot water until a soft, wet dough forms (a few lumps are OK). Drop clumps of dough over filling; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake until filling is bubbling and top is golden brown and cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool. Serve with ice cream.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 571 calories; 18 g fat; 11 g saturated fat; 46 mg cholesterol; 5 g protein; 100 g carbohydrate; 63 g sugar; 5 g fiber; 284 mg sodium; 198 mg calcium.

Recipe from: Bon Appétit

Terri Hahn of Osceola has worked in food media for more than 30 years and has won numerous state and national awards for her writing. Email her at [email protected]

 

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