Harvest of the Month: October is for Pears
October 16, 2008
California pears are in season from late summer through early winter and TTUSD elementary school students will begin this years Harvest of the Month tasting cycle with Bartlett, Bosc and Red Anjou pears. Pears are one of the earliest cultivated fruit trees. The Romans used grafting techniques to develop more than 50 varieties of pears. Because of their versatility and long storage life, pears were a valuable commodity that spread around Europe with the rise of the Roman Empire. Early Americans brought pear seedlings to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and pears eventually made their way to California with the forty-niners heading west to the California Gold Rush. Today, 98 percent of all pears grown in the United States are grown in California, Oregon and Washington.Pears provide an excellent source of fiber, much of it in the form of pectin, which is important in keeping blood sugar levels stable. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, essential for metabolism and tissue repair, and potassium, an element easily lost through perspiration and dehydration. Pears are best when eaten with the peel because that is where most of the fiber and antioxidants are found.Pears are a unique fruit that ripen best off the tree (pears that ripen on the tree are often gritty). Growers pick the fruit when mature but green. Unripe pears should be stored at room temperature until ripe and ready to eat. You can test for ripeness by pressing gently near the stem end with your thumb. If it yields to the pressure, it is ready to eat. Ripe pears should be stored in the refrigerator and they will keep for three to five days.Pears make a great snack or dessert just they way they are. Try adding fresh pears to salads and smoothies. Pears can be baked, poached, sauted, roasted and grilled. Anything that can be done with an apple can be done with a pear. Mark Estee, the chef owner of Moodys Bistro andamp; Lounge and the soon to be open Baxters Bistro andamp; Lounge in the Village at Northstar has shared his recipe for Fall Harvest Pear Soup. Mark sits on the board for Project MANA, is a founding member of the Slow Food Lake Tahoe convivia, and is passionate about simple, seasonal, fresh and local food. He believes cooking and spending time in the kitchen alone or as a family will make everyones day a little better! Enjoy this cozy recipe on a cool fall evening.Maria Martin, MPH, RD is a member of the Nutrition Coalition and a Wellness Dietitian. The Nutrition Coalition is funded and supported by the Tahoe Forest Health System through the Tahoe Center for Health and Sports Performance. For more information, contact us at 587-3769, ext 228 or email@example.com.
Fall Harvest Pear SoupMakes 2.5 qts. (10 – 8 oz. servings)4 cups diced ripe pears (any type will do) leave skin on1 cup diced onion1 cup diced celery2 cup diced Yukon gold potato3 T butter3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil1 bunch fresh chopped parsley1 T cumin ground1 T coriander ground1 t all spice1 quart vegetable stock or waterKosher salt and fresh pepper to tasteIn soup pot on medium heat add the butter and extra virgin olive oil. Add the pears, onion, celery, potato and parsley. Cook for 10 minutes until pears begin to soften. Add spices and stock and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Puree or blend. Adjust seasonings and consistency by adding more stock if needed. Strain soup if you like. Serve soup hot in a bowl with a dice of fresh pears that have been tossed with some balsamic vinegar and a loaf of warm bread.