Pears have long been associated with Christmas time. Hence their presence in my most favorite Christmas song the Twelve Days of Christmas “…and a partridge in a pear tree”. Pears are commonly given as gifts of holiday greetings and this is because they are at their peak during this time of year and taste fantastically delicious. They are thought to come originally from western Europe and Asia. There are many different types of pears which is fantastic because you can have your pick of many different types!
Varieties: There are literally countless different varieties of pears grown worldwide. They come in many different colors including red, brown, yellow, green, brown and many more. Pears are typically characterized into two different categories: European or Asian pears. Pears are a similar shape to an apple, especially the famous Asian apple pear. Some of the most popular pear varieties are the green and red anjou, bosc, concorde, Seckel, comice, forelle, bartlett and starkrimson.
Season: The grand majority of pear varieties are in season in the fall and winter however the bartlett variety is in season in the late summer. The fall and winter months are when pears are plentiful in the grocery stores and farmers’ markets and I strongly suggest taking advantage of them now while they are at their peak and taste their best.
Heath Benefits: Pears have many health benefits and contain a range of nutrients but none more prevalent than dietary fiber. The high levels of fiber in pears have numerous benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease by decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol, decreasing the chances of type 2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of diverticulitis by reducing pressure in the colon. Fiber also aids in weight loss by making you feel fuller for longer and it regulates your digestive system and reduces constipation. Pears contain vitamin C which maintains healthy skin and hair and keeps a healthy immune system. Pears are also 84% water and help to keep your body hydrated.
Nutrients: Contains vitamins B, C, E and K as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, sodium and manganese. One medium pear is about 100 calories. Pears are fat free and cholesterol free.
How to store them: It is important to know that pears ripen faster when they are off the tree and have already been harvested. Therefore they are picked when they are maturing but not yet ripe. They ripen from the inside out and when selecting them at the grocery store be sure to pick ones that give a little when you press the top of the pear (where the stem meets the fruit). Try not to pick ones that are soft anywhere else because it likely means that they are over ripe.
Store the pears at room temperature or in a paper bag if you are trying to ripen them faster. They should last a few days but you should consume them as soon as they are ripe.