Homer, famous author of the Odyessy, called pears “gift of the gods.”
That was in 800 B.C. Thousands of years later, there are many (including me) who would agree.
Did you know?
- Pears were cultivated in 5000 B.C. in China by Feng Li, a Chinese diplomat as a commercial venture.
- The Chinese believed that the pear was a symbol of immortality. (Pear trees live for a long time.)
- In Greek and Roman mythology, pears are sacred to three goddesses.
- They are members of the rose family.
- There are more than 5,000 varieties of pears! (When I was at the farmer’s market a guy showed me 5 varieties last week; I was impressed.)
- Pear trees can produce fruit for up to 100 years.
- They were cultivated to become the sweet juicy taste we know today.
- Pears are Powerfoods.
- have more nutrients per calorie than calories per nutrient (surprising since they are so sweet). They are what I call a Smart Carb.
- are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, copper & vitamin K.
- are often considered a hypoallergenic fruit that is less likely to produce an adverse response than other fruits by healthcare practitioners.
- are often the first fruit fed to infants as a safe way to start.
- For diabetics; pears have a low glycemic index (GI) of just 38. Also, pears are one of the fruits that can improve blood glucose levels, help a person lose weight, and improve concentration.
- The risk of stroke was lower among those who said they had a high intake of white fruits and vegetables compared with those with a low intake.
- In one study women who consumed at least one serving per day of apples and pears had a reduced risk of lung cancer.
- In a Brazilian study participants who consumed pears or apples (another powerfood) had a significant weight loss after 12 weeks of 1.21 kg, while those consuming oat cookies did not have a significant weight loss.
- Research conducted by the University of Innsbruck in Austria has suggested that fruit that is fully ripened, almost to the point of spoilage, actually increases levels of antioxidants.
How pears ripen:
- They ripen best off the tree; they do not ripen well on the tree.
- They are harvested when they are mature but unripe and need to be ripened after harvest.
- They have a long storage life so pears can be stored for months at O C (32F). Bartlett pears can only be stored for a few months; Anjou pears can be stored for 5-7 months.
- This fruit ripens best at room temperature; leave them on your kitchen counter and enjoy their beauty until they ripen in a few days. Putting apples and bananas in the same bowl will speed up the ripening, or you can put them in a paper bag.
- If you want to slow down the ripening of the pears simply put them back in the refrigerator in the coldest part, away from strong-smelling foods; they absorb odors.
- Bartlett pears change from green to yellow as they ripen.
- Anjou, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Seckel and Forelle do not dramatically change color as they ripen.
- Interesting is that they ripen from the inside out; the best way to check for ripeness is to gently press on the neck of the pear near the stem with your thumb. When it gives in to gentle pressure it is ripe, juicy, and ready to eat.
- When it is soft around the middle is overripe.
What to do with pears:
- The best ones for cooking are the firmer varieties such as Bosc, Anjou, or Concorde; their flesh is denser and they hold their shape better.
- Best for eating fresh or juicing are Bartlett, Starkrimson, and Comice as they are juicier; they’re not good for cooking as they over-soften and their flavor is lost when heated.
- Do not freeze fresh pears; the juice and fibers separate when they thaw which is not nice at all. You can freeze cooked ones (such as pear sauce, pear crumble or pear cake).
So now you know why pears are a “Gift of the Gods.”
Pear Recipes… My Gift to You: