December is National Pear Month. Pears are available nearly year-round, which makes them a great addition to any meal, reports Lisa Franzen-Castle UNL Extension Nutrition Specialist. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and skin colors, and can be eaten raw or cooked. They are great as a quick snack, chopped and added to salads, or baked, broiled or grilled.
Check out the following information about pears.
Pears are an excellent source of dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin C. they contain no saturated fat, sodium, or cholesterol. A medium pear has about 100 calories.
Bartlett pears change from green to yellow as they ripen. Non-Bartlett pears don’t drastically change color when ripening. Pears ripen from the inside out, so check for ripeness by gently pressing near the stem with your thumb. When it gives to gentle pressure it is ripe and ready to eat.
Choose pears that are firm to the touch and free from bruises and blemishes. If pears are ripe, they can be used immediately or refrigerated to slow down further ripening. If they need to ripen, leave them out at room temperature for 7 to 10 days or put them in a paper bag to help them ripen faster, checking them daily.
Wash pears under running water before eating. A mild solution of half water and half lemon juice can be brushed on cut pears to slow the browning process after being cut up. Lightly poaching pears will also slow the browning process and is a good way to prepare them for use in salads.
Firmer varieties such as Bosc, Anjou, or Concorde are best for poaching, baking, and grilling. They have denser flesh, hold their shape better, and keep their flavor. Yellow Bartlett, Red Bartlett, Starkrimson, and Comice, are best eaten when ripe and fresh.
Pears are perfect for snacks, as salad toppings, additions to ice cream or yogurt, and as a side dish and are great baked, poached, sautéed, roasted, or grilled. They can be used in baked goods and made into preserves, jams, and chutneys. Overripe pears are still tasty, just not great for serving whole or sliced use them in smoothies, sauces, or as a thickening agent for soups, stocks or stews.
Check out the USA Pears website at www.usapears.com, which includes more pear nutrition information and recipes.
For more information, contact your local Nebraska Extension Office or on the web at: food.unl.edu Nebraska Extension In Our Grit, Our Glory.UN–L for FamiliesNancy Frecks, Extension EducatorNebraska Extension