Friday, September 26, 2008

Pear Season

Although are available all year round, they are a fruit that ripens and is collected in the autumn months, and they conjure up all the colors of the season. Now is the time to use them liberally in mouthwatering desserts, serve them sliced with tangy cheese following a meal, or munch on them as a healthy snack.

There are many varieties of pear available (see some varieties below), but whichever type you choose always select smooth fruit that is free from cuts or bruises. Pears ripen off the tree and are ready to eat when the flesh near the stem has some give. If you store them in a fruit bowl at room temperature, they make an elegant, fall decoration, but they can also be stored in the crisper of the refrigerator until ripe. Pears can be poached, baked or roasted in both sweet and savory dishes, and simply sliced in salads.

A few of the most common pears:

The Bartlett is the most commonly grown pear in the US. This pear comes in green flesh and red flesh variety. The fully ripe Bartlett may be yellow, but the Red Bartlett pear develops its red skin prior to being fully ripe. As with the Anjou pear, it can be either red or yellow, or a mixture of both. It is very versatile, and is good in salads, or baked in desserts.

This green-skinned versatile pear is great for poaching, baking or in salads. Ideal for crumbles, cakes and tarts.

Often known as Red Sensation, as when they ripen they become a deep crimson color. This medium sized pear has a buttery texture that is ideal for desserts and fruit salads.

Red Anjou
This red, medium-sized pear has a white, fine-textured flesh. This is a great pear to use in salads, and goes especially well with walnuts.

These small green and red pears have a mild flavor and are good to eat alone, and hold their shape well when roasted.

This is a medium to large brown pear, and is sweet and juicy. It is one of the best all-round pears for cooking and holds up well when poached, pan-fried or baked. It has a cream colored flesh, and slightly grainy texture.

This large roundish pear has a green-yellow skin, with red blush. It has a fine textured, juicy flesh making it perfect in desserts and great on its own.

Pears can be poached, baked or roasted, or added to salads or tarts. Below is a super simple recipe for Baked Pear that turns an everyday meal into something special. This recipe was featured in the Donna Hay magazine.

Baked Pear Custa
rds (serves 4)
  • 2 cups pouring cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup caster (extra fine) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced
  • freshly grated nutmeg for sprinkling
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to the boil.
  3. Place the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until well combined.
  4. Gradually add the hot cream mixture, whisking well to combine.
  5. Pour into 4 x 1 1/2 cup-capacity ovenproof dishes and top with pear slices.
  6. Place on a baking tray and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until just set.
  7. Sprinkle with nutmeg to serve.

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