Sweet, juicy, and bursting with flavor, the pear is decadent in all its varieties. Delicious raw, roasted, stewed, or baked, there are endless creative ways to enjoy pears. Throwing a party? Pair pears with cheese to wow your guests with something different.
From Bosc to Bartlett and countless varieties in between, pears are packed with health-boosting vitamins and nutrients. Vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and copper, to name just a few, all aid in boosting immunity, regulating blood pressure, building strong bones, and fighting inflammation. Pears are a beautiful addition to any gift basket, but first gift yourself by incorporating this nutrient-rich fruit into your daily diet. Your body—and taste buds—will thank you.
Pears are, well, pear-shaped! Narrow at the neck and wide at the bottom like a bell, the variety of fruit determines its range of colors. Some of the most common varieties available include the smooth-skinned Bartlett, which is yellowish-green to gold; the rounder Comice, with its blush of red on a shiny green surface; the Bosc, which has a sandy-brown, almost leather-like exterior; the light-green D’Anjou, a soft-skinned option; and the Starkrimson, also soft-skinned, but deep red.
Choose your pear based on what flavor you desire most. Bartletts are juicy and lightly sweet; Comices are incredibly sweet and silky; Boscs are a bit more earthy-sweet; the green D’Anjous have citrusy-sweet overtones; and the Starkrimsons are sweet with slightly floral profiles.
The most common varieties of pears are sometimes imported from other countries, so they’re readily available in US supermarkets all year long.
In the US, pears are generally considered a winter fruit. However, certain varieties of pears are also available in the fall and spring. For example, Barlett and Red Bartlett pears are in season from August to January while D’Anjou pears are in season from October to June. In Europe, peak pear season is June through December.
Pears do not ripen on the tree—in fact, if allowed to do so, they’ll have a slightly metallic taste and mushy flesh. The fruit improves in both flavor and texture after harvest. So when selecting pears at the market, you want firm fruit if you’ll be using them later in the week. To select a ripe pear for immediate enjoyment, gently press your thumb into the neck—if it yields, it’s ripe.
Avoid fruit that has blemishes on the body or around the stem. If the middle of the fruit yields to pressure, it’s overripe.
When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic produce, it’s helpful to know which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. In this ranking, the 12 most affected fruits and vegetables belong to the “Dirty Dozen” and the 15 least affected are part of the “Clean Fifteen”. These lists help identify the produce that is most—and least—dramatically affected by pesticides. Pears are ranked at #19, a little closer to the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” produce list. Select organic pears to minimize your exposure to pesticides.
However, the Environmental Working Group and Yoffie Life stress that consuming conventionally grown vegetables and fruits when the organic version is unavailable or financially impossible is far better than eating none at all.
Your countertop is the perfect place for pears. When allowed to ripen uncut and unwashed at room temperature, they reach their peak of sweetness in five to seven days. After you bring the fruit home from the grocery store, ripening may take a few days. You can speed up the ripening process by placing pears in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana. These fruits emit ethylene, a naturally occurring gas that stimulates ripening.
Unripened pears mustn’t be refrigerated! But already-ripe pears can be refrigerated for a day or two to preserve optimum flavor.
Wash pears under cold water, giving them a firm scrub to remove any grime. Wash your fruit even if you plan to peel it.
If you intend to eat the fruit raw or add it to salads, it’s a matter of personal preference whether you peel it. Most people just slice or dice as needed. It is most common to peel pears before cooking, roasting, baking, or poaching.
Flavonoids are plant pigments that give brightly colored vegetables and fruits their distinct floral hue. These specific nutrients may aid in preventing the acceleration of the aging process by fighting against free-radical damage in the skin, organs, and bones. They have also been helpful in decreasing inflammation in muscles and joints and may play a role in cancer prevention.
This immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure and heart disease risk.
Vitamin K, specifically vitamin K2, is helpful for regulating and directing dietary calcium in and out of the bones. It is also responsible for proper blood clotting and may aid in protecting the arteries from calcification.
Alongside sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte essential for conducting electrical reactions in the body. Potassium aids proper muscle function, digestive health, and skeletal contractions.
A mineral that plays a role in producing collagen and keeping the immune system in proper working order, copper is an essential nutrient needed by the body in small amounts. Copper may also fight against free radicals, helping to delay the aging process. Energy production is also one of the many benefits of this important mineral.
Pears are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber aids digestion by helping food move along the digestive tract. Without fiber, you may experience constipation, irregularity, and low energy. High-fiber diets are associated with weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease, and reduced risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Additionally, research suggests the high level of an antioxidant called flavonol (a type of flavonoid) in pears also contributes to lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes. A diet rich in apples and pears is thought to yield among the highest levels of flavonols compared to other combinations of fruits and vegetables.
Natural health professionals such as acupuncturists, massage therapists, and homeopaths tout the anti-inflammatory power of pears; however, there is not a lot of empirical evidence to support these claims to date.
- More than 5,000 varieties of pears are grown in the world.
- Pears are not native to North America. European colonists brought the fruit with them when they immigrated to the New World in the 1500s.
- In Chinese culture, the pear is revered as a symbol of immortality.