The northern hemisphere’s second most popular fruit, pear, originated in the region of Tian Shan Mountain Chain in central Asia. Later, plants were transplanted east and west, spreading to many Mediterranean and Central European countries and east, to what is today China.
Greek writers of antiquity including Homer thought the pear to be a gift of the gods and praised it. Roman writers Cato and Pliny the Elder also thought highly of the pear.
Greeks and Romans cultivated pears and wrote extensively about the fruit. Romans ate cooked pears only, although today most people prefer fresh fruit, with the exception of few who like pears poached in red- or white wine, or compotes. Dried pears go into trail mixes, or are used for baking.
Perry is the name of pear wine, popular in England.
A ripe pear is succulent, delicious with soft but “al dente” texture. It may be buttery or grainy, pending on variety. (There are 3000 varieties), but in North American growers specialize on a few that are disease resistant, yield well, or cold resistant, or large in size, or those that lend themselves well for long cold storage.
Pear trees grow 10- 17 metres tall, but today, in many countries, dwarfs are bred for ease and speed in picking. The tree is cold resistant.
The following varieties are popular, but not always available in one store – Anjou (red or green), Bartlett (yellow or red), bosc, comice, forelle, seckel, Packham, Eldorado, La Conte, Chinese pear, precoce, winter Nellie’s, kieffer, morettini, Argentine William, abate, passa crassona, butter William, and butter Hardy.
Abate can be stored for up to nine weeks under proper conditions. Occasionally this variety is available in Toronto, usually imported from Italy.
Italy, Spain, South Africa, the U S A, Argentina, and Chile are major producers and exporters. Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands produce large quantities for local consumption.
Pears are picked immature, and ripen in storage, or stored in controlled atmosphere conditions fro months.
The fruit is rich in potassium, vitamin C, and contains four grams of fibre per unit.
Washington State, Oregon, California, and Michigan are big American producers. The first trees there were planted in the 1700’s.
In Canada, British Columbia and Ontario are the biggest pear producers. In other provinces the scale is local at best. Canadian pears are relatively small, but taste better than large hybrids which producers prefer.
Buy pears that feel hard to the touch, ripen them in your kitchen for a few days and then refrigerate.
Williams pear are distilled into popular pear eau de vie in France (Alsace), Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.