Pears are one of the most popular fruits in the world. BC’s Okanagan Valley is our local source of delicious pears in addition to other fabulous tree fruits such as cherries and apples. Pears are highly nutritious. One medium pear contains 100 calories, 4g of fibre (24%DV), 7mg vitamin C (10% DV), 190mg potassium and several phytonutrients and antioxidants, especially in the colourful skins.
The fibre in pears is particularly notable. Pectin is a soluble fibre in pears that helps lower cholesterol which reduces the risk of heart disease. There is also pre-biotic fibre in pears which are fuel for the good bacteria in the intestine and promote good intestinal health. Fibre is also important in maintaining stable blood sugars, reducing constipation and the risk for colon cancer.
BUYING AND STORING PEARS
Pears are grown to maturity but picked before they are ripe. They are delivered to the store unripe and will ripen slowly at room temperature. You can speed up ripening by placing them in a fruit bowl next to bananas or other ethylene producing ripening fruit. How to you know when they are ripe? Check the neck. Bartlett pear’s skin will brighten as it ripens, but other pears stay the same colour. Press the neck of the pear, beside the stem, gently with your thumb. The flesh of a ripe pear will yield to gentle pressure. Once ripe, you can either eat it or store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you peel a pear, to prevent browning, dip it in a solution of 50% water and 50% lemon juice.
Pears are delicious on their own. They can be sautéed with caramelized onions to add to a grilled sharp cheddar cheese sandwich, diced for a spinach salad with blue cheese and walnuts or stuffed into an acorn squash with brown rice, carrots, onions, celery, dried cranberries, walnuts and herbs. Pears make a delicious dessert as a crumble or pie. They can also add fibre to your favourite smoothie recipe.