Just Pearfect

Juicy and sweet, with a soft, grainy texture, the pear is one of our best sources of dietary fiber. And the good news for the pear lovers out there is that now is the best time of year to enjoy this tasty fruit.

Pears are members of the rose family and are related to the apple and the quince. Like apples, pears have a core that features several seeds. But unlike apples, pears are sometimes eaten in their entirety along with the soft core. Here are the species of pears with which we are most familiar. Try them all to find your favorites.

Yellow Bartlett, available fall and winter, are often used for canning or cooking because their dense flesh holds its shape during cooking. Bartletts are extremely aromatic, and have that definitive “pear flavor.”

Red Bartletts are another variety to choose from. Aside from color, there are virtually no differences between the two Bartlett pears. The red color is only skin deep and will not change the color of the pear if cooked without its peel.

Anjou pears, whether green or red, are available all winter long. They are picked and shipped before they ripen to prevent bruising. They do not change color as they ripen so check for ripeness by pressing gently near the stem. When they yield slightly, they’re ready to enjoy.

Bosc pears are an elegant variety, with distinctive characteristics that set them apart from other pears. Bosc eaters appreciate their more crunchy flesh and their sweet-spiced flavor. The rough brown skin hides a delicious, spicy and slightly firmer flesh.

“Good things some in small packages” might have been written just for the tasty Seckel. The smallest of all commercially grown pears, Seckels are also the sweetest. So sweet, in fact, that they are sometimes called “sugar pears” and make the perfect lunch-box snack. They are maroon and olive green and will not change color when ripe.

Forelles are one of the few varieties of winter pears that do change color as they ripen. They are considered the most beautiful of all pears, as their pretty red freckling remains visible, while the green skin turns bright yellow as they ripen.

Try tasty pears this season in of our mouth-watering recipes!

Upside-Down Pear Cakes

  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 large ripe Bartlett pears, peeled and cored
  • 6 tablespoons margarine (3/4 of a stick)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup Amaretto or other flavored liqueur
  • whipped cream
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour six 7-8 ounce ramekins.

Over a medium flame, heat oil in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar and honey; cook over low heat for about 5 minutes until mixture no longer separates. Divide mixture evenly between prepared ramekins. Cut each pear into 12 wedges and place 4 wedges in the bottom of each dish; set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat margarine with sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Combine juice and Amaretto in a bowl.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the margarine and sugar mixture, then half of the liquid, beating well after each addition. Repeat until all ingredients are combined. Pour batter into the six prepared dishes, smoothing the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Carefully flip each dish over onto serving plates to remove from dish. Serve immediately with whipped cream and toasted almond slices.


Pear and Pomegranate Salad

For the salad:

  • 2 Comice pears
  • 4 cups fresh mixed greens, washed and checked
  • 2 cups pomegranate seeds
  • 1 bunch finely diced scallions
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

For the pomegranate vinaigrette:

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Core the pears and slice thinly. Sprinkle with a lemon juice. Place in a large salad bowl. Add mixed greens and pomegranate seeds.

Whisk together shallots, salt, freshly ground pepper, wine vinegar and pomegranate juice in a small bowl. Add oil in a thin stream, continuing to whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

Divide the salad among four plates. Sprinkle with diced scallions and sliced almonds. Grind a little fresh black pepper on each salad. Serve at once.

Enjoy!


Many ingredients are prone to infestation. Please consult a Rav for specific guidelines on how to avoid transgressions related to insects.


Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to peppermill@hamodia.com. This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.