Last month, I headed to Portland to take a peek at the farms that grow one of my very favorite fruits, pears.
And as much as I wanted to pick a pear straight from the tree and take a hearty bite, it just wouldn’t have done the pear justice. It's because pears don’t actually ripen on the tree. They’re harvested when they’re mature, but when left at room temperature, they slowly ripen to the sweet, juicy fruit I love.
On this trip, I learned that the best way to see if a pear is ripe is to “Check the Neck!” You simply apply gentle pressure to the neck of the pear (near the stem) with your thumb and if it’s slightly soft, it’s ripe! I love that.
|Pears get tan lines, too!|
But keep in mind that a pear isn’t really just a pear (or a body shape!). Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Forelle, Seckell—each has their own flavor, texture and strength in the kitchen.
I put together this little guide to help you navigate your way through the world of pears.
*Info adapted from USA Pears. For more information about the various pear varieties, click here.And the variety doesn’t stop there. Pears can be enjoyed in savory and sweet recipes, cooked or raw, in salads, sandwiches, pastas, and desserts.
|enjoying my pears for lunch in a Curried Chicken Salad with Pears and Grapes|
|Pear Marionberry Pie for dessert|
There’s also something to love about a biting into a pear – just the way it is – for an afternoon snack.
That’s where these little pear packs come in handy. They protect your precious pear from the harsh outside world and the risk of getting bruised and bumped. When you use a pear pack, you’re guaranteed to have a flawless pear when snack time hits.
|the prettiest view during lunch|
It’ also hard to overlook the nutritional benefits of pears. This humble fruit is high in fiber (a whopping 6 grams per medium pear) and a good source of potassium and vitamin C.
Since my trip to Portland, I’ve been inspired to experiment more with pears in my kitchen – adding sliced pears to my homemade wraps, poaching them in coconut milk, incorporating them in my whole grain salads, and baking them, as demonstrated in this super simple, no-fuss recipe below.
Spicy Baked Pears with Walnuts
Heat intensifies the sweetness of pears, while also softening the texture to result in a completely delectable, crowd-pleasing sweet course. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or creamy Greek yogurt!
3-4 pears, halved
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup walnuts, chopped
Drizzle of honey
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut the pears in halve so as not to include the core and place in a medium-sized baking dish.
3. Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg over the pears, and place a small amount of butter over each pear half.
4. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts in the baking dish.
5. Drizzle everything with honey.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Enjoy, preferably with those you love.
For another yummy pear recipe, check out our Almond Pancakes with Brown Butter Pears.