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Whole Gourmet Natural Cooking

Alison Anton's Natural Cooking Blog offers healthy recipes, inspirational food articles and culinary advice for the natural chef, and features dessert recipes from her upcoming cookbook, Desserts for Every Body.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Pear Mon Frere?

Alongside peanut butter on a spoon, poached pears were my favorite food growing up. I loved the melt-in-your-mouth texture and soft, sweet taste.

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Pears are fall fruits that are native to the Middle East, but in the west, are grown commercially in Washington, Oregon and California. France is also revered for its superior pear varieties.

Pears are best picked when they are still firm. Unlike most tree fruits, they ripen off the tree and improve in both taste and texture. Choose pears that are firm, yet not hard, and ripen them at room temperature in a paper bag. They should be refrigerated when ripe and will keep only a couple days there-after.

Recipes:

Stilton Pear Salad with Candied Spiced Pecans
The tangy snap of red wine vinegar, sweetness from fresh ripe pears, and the crunch of candied nuts makes this salad a feast for the harvest season...

Poached Pears with Maple Mousse
Tender cooked pears in a rich wine marinade meld with warming spices with a silky-sweet "healthy" mousse to top it off...


There are hundreds of varieties of pears. The most common are Bartlett, Bosc and comice. There's a whole family of Bartlett Pears that range in color from red to yellow and have a red blush when fully ripe. They are bell shaped and are great for eating fresh or cooking. Bosc Pears have a long, narrow neck and have a brownish skin that is firmer than the Bartlett varieties. They are delightful eating fresh and make a perfect pear pie. A typical winter pear found in holiday gift boxes, Comice Pears have a plump shape and range from green to red in color. They go great with cheeses and fruit salads.

Any way you slice 'em, pears have a number of health benefits. They have large amounts of insoluble fiber (the gritty texture) to aid the colon in elimination, and soluble fiber, like pectin, to help lower serum cholesterol levels. Pears also contain vitamin C, B-vitamins, potassium and iron. Much of the fiber and vitamin content is in the skin, so try to eat these healthful fruits whole as much as possible.

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