The early colonists used cuttings from European stock and brought pear trees to North America. The Franciscan monks introduced pear trees to California and filled their mission gardens with them.
Unlike most other tree fruits, pears are best when they are ripened off the tree because when they are left on the tree to ripen they develop little gritty stones in their flesh. When they are picked while green and ripened off the tree they develop a smooth, creamy texture.
Bartlett pears were first raised in Berkshire, England in 1770. They are large, golden yellow summer pears with a smooth skin. The flesh is juicy and delicious and ripens very quickly once picked. These pears can easily bruise and are best eaten while they still have a little bit of green in the skin. The Barlett makes up more than 65 percent of commercial pear production and many are canned.
The Anjou pear is most abundant in the winter and not as sweet as the Bartlett. This variety belongs to the bergamot group of pears which remain green when ripe and are best eaten when they yield to gentle pressure. They have a firm texture with a spicy sweetness. They are best for cooking or baking.
The Comice pear has the reputation of being the sweetest and most flavorful of all pears and many consider it to be the best. During peak ripeness they are a soft green color with a golden glow. Their skin is so thin that even a gentle touch can leave a mark. They are so creamy smooth that they melt in the mouth and are best eaten raw.
The Bosc pear is a member of the conical pear family and is long and tapered. When ripened they are a dark russet color and the meat is firm and crunchy. The Bosc holds up well in picnic baskets and lunch bags and is wonderful baked, broiled, poached or preserved.
The Seckel pear is the true American. They were discovered as a mutant pear around the time of the American Revolution. They have a hard, green skin that turns slightly golden with a light red blush when ripe. They have a spicy aroma with a crisp sweet flesh. They are always very small and bite-sized which make them especially a good size for children.
Pears are extremely alkaline and have a strong diuretic action, which makes then helpful for constipation, poor digestion and as a valuable cleanser for the entire system. Their iodine content helps the thyroid and the metabolism. They are an excellent source of fiber, including pectin. They have even more pectin than apples and they act like a broom sweeping the intestinal track and binding to heavy metals to help pull the metals out of the body.
Select firm, unblemished fruit and allow them to fully ripen before eating, but be careful not to let them soften too much because they will become mushy. For a delicious and nutritious breakfast pudding try this easy and quick pear chia recipe.
Pear and Chia Pudding
- 1 pear
- 1 cup coconut or almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 Tbsp chia seeds
- pinch Himalayan salt
- 1 Tbsp shredded coconut
- 1 Tbsp chopped almonds
Brenda Cobb is author of The Living Foods Lifestyle and founder of The Living Foods Institute, an educational center and therapy spa in Atlanta, offering healthy lifestyle courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging, detoxification, relaxation and cleansing therapies. For more information, call 404-524-4488 or 800-844-9876 and visit LivingFoodsInstitue.com.