Know your Pears - Introduction
- The pear grown in England is the European Pear which derives from Pyrus communis, native of the temperate parts of Europe and the western part of southern Asia as far as the Himalayas.
Know your Pears - Varieties
- In America some varieties are grown which are hybrids between the European Pear (as represented by `William's Bon Chretien', known in America as 'Bartlett') and Pyrus serotina, the Japanese sand pear.
- Although the season for pears runs from August through October, there is a variety of pear available year-round because of the seasonal variations amongst the different varieties.
- Pears are members of the rose family and related to the apple and the quince.
- Pears generally have a large round bottom that tapers towards the top.
- Depending upon the variety, their paper-thin skins can either be yellow, green, brown, red or a combination of two or more of these colours.
- Like apples, pears have a core that features several seeds.
Know your Pears - Origins
- While the cultivation of pears has been traced back in western Asia for three thousand years, there is also some speculation that its history goes back even further and that this marvelous fruit was discovered by people in the Stone Age.
- Whatever their origins, pears have been revered throughout time.
- Called the "gift of the gods" by Homer in his epic, The Odyssey, pears were also a luxurious item in the court of Louis XIV.
- The early colonists took pears to America, and while the first pear tree was planted there in 1620, much of their pear supply was still imported from France.
- Like many other fruit trees, pears were introduced into California and Mexico by missionaries who planted them in their mission gardens.
- Interestingly, with all of the respect that pears commanded, until the 18th century they did not have the soft juicy flesh that we now know them to possess.
- It was during this time that a lot of attention was given to the cultivation and breeding of pears, and many varieties were developed that featured pears' distinctive buttery texture and sweet taste.
Know your Pears - Distribution
- Today, much of the world's pear supply is grown in China, Italy and the United States.
Know your Pears - Eating Raw
- Fresh pears are delicious eaten as is after gently washing the skin by running it under cool water and patting it dry.
- Since their skin provides some of the fibre, it is best to not peel the fruit but eat the entire pear.
- To cut the pear into pieces, you can use an apple corer, cutting from the fruit's base to remove the core, and then cutting it into the desired sizes and shapes.
- Once cut, pears will oxidise quickly and turn a brownish colour.
- You can help to prevent this oxidisation by applying some lemon, lime or orange juice to the flesh.