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Everything You Need To Know About Pears

Everything You Need To Know About Pears
Reading Time: 5 minutesSweet juicy pears are irresistible all year long, and their flavor never disappoints. The tart, tangy, and ever so sweet flavor of pears is a favorite for many people for good reason! Not only does this fruit taste amazing, but it also holds a strong nutritional punch, which will have you reaping the benefits instantaneously. Did you know there are over 3,000 different varieties of pears you can consume? The Bartlett, Asian pear, and the prickly pear are the most well known, but there are many more taste just as luscious, buttery, and floral like.

Pear Fun Facts

  • “Pears are a part of the rose family.
  • The majority of pears sold in the United States are grown on the west coast, mainly Oregon and Washington.
  • A medium pear has about 100 calories.
  • Pear tree wood is often times used to construct musical instruments, furniture, and other wooden décor.” [1]
  • “Pears are native to Asia and Europe. The first pear tree was planted in North America in 1620 in the Massachusetts Bay colony.
  • The European pear originated in Southeast Asia and was first cultivated in Europe about 1000 B.C.
  • The Chinese considered the pear, which they call “li,” to be a symbol of immortality. The destruction of a pear tree symbolized tragic or untimely death.
  • Before tobacco was introduced in Europe, pear leaves were smoked.
  • Pears were used as a natural remedy against nausea in ancient Greece.” [2]
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Pear History/Mythology

Pears are one of the oldest cultivated fruits known to man, and they date back to 5,000 BC. They were easy to harvest and had a long storage life, which made them popular then and even now.

According to USA Pears,

“In 5,000 B.C., Feng Li, a Chinese diplomat, abandoned his responsibilities when he became consumed with grafting peaches, almonds, persimmons, pears, and apples as a commercial venture. In The Odyssey, the Greek poet laureate, Homer, lauds pears as a “gift of the gods.” Pomona, goddess of fruit, was a cherished member of the Roman Pantheon and Roman farmers documented extensive pear growing and grafting techniques. Thanks to their versatility and long storage life, pears were a valuable and much-desired commodity among the trading routes of the ancient world.” [3]

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They eventually made their way around the globe, and in the 17th century became very popular in Europe. In the 18th century, the pear tree became “famous” when it was added to the 12-days of Christmas holiday carol. Around that same time frame, colonists brought over pear trees as they settled in Oregon and Washington where they are still produced heavily today. The climate in this region of the world is ideal for growing pears, and to date there are over 1,600 pear growers in both Oregon and Washington alone. “In central Washington’s Yakima Valley, the light, fertile soil of the agricultural-rich region supports thousands of acres of Northwest pear trees. The growing regions in Washington share their volcanic influences from Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens.”

“The name pear, from the Anglo Saxon pere or peru hu, is derived from Latin pera or pira; thus, poire in French, peer in Dutch, paere in Danish, paron in Swedish, and pera in Spanish and Italian.” [4]

Today, pears are enjoyed in a variety of ways all around the world in pear ciders, jams, desserts, and even pear sauces to top an evening meal.

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Pear Nutritional Facts

These sweet, buttery fruits pack a large punch in the nutritional department, with one medium pear only holding around 100 calories. The most nutritional part of the pear is indeed the skin, so do not throw it out next time you consume one. According to World Healthiest Foods, “Recent studies have shown that the skin of pears contains at least three to four times as many phenolic phytonutrients as the flesh. These phytonutrients include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory flavonoids, and potentially anti-cancer phytonutrients, like cinnamic acids. The skin of the pear has also been shown to contain about half of the pear’s total dietary fiber.” [5]

They contain many phytonutrients that are essential to better health and wellness. Some of the nutrients present are hydroxybenzoic acid, hydroxycinnamic acid, hydroxy quinones, carotenoids, and flavanols. These all make up the nutritional essentials of a pear, as they provide both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

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The vitamins and minerals are also an impressive roster, as a pear contains vitamin A, C, B, D, E, and K. Riboflavin, thiamin, zinc, phosphorus, copper, potassium, selenium, fluoride, as well as folate are some other key nutrients present in pears. [6]

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Pear Health Benefits

With the amount of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals present in pears, there is bound to be positive health benefits associated with them. They are vital to a well balanced diet, and they have the ability to protect you against certain diseases especially with their high fiber content.

According to Medical News Today,

“The National Institute of Medicine based its recommendation on a review of the findings from several large studies. They found that diets with 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories were associated with significant reductions in the risk of both coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.” [7]

It is also stated, “Eating one medium pear would provide 12 percent of daily vitamin C needs, as well as 10 percent of vitamin K, 6 percent of potassium, and smaller amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, and folate.” [7] Consuming any plant like foods will be beneficial to your health long term in fighting off infections, inflammation, as well as obesity and diabetes long term.

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Pear Varieties

With over 3,000 edible varieties of pears to date, there are certain types that almost everyone has heard of and tried. World’s Healthiest Foods labels out the most popular varieties of pears that are grown, purchased, and consumed around the world. No matter what region of the world you are in, you are bound to find one of these varieties at the market or grocery store in which you shop!

Bartlett

This is a popular variety in the United States and for good reason. This yellow/green speckled pear can come fresh or in a can for you to enjoy year round.

Bosc

This pear is a reddish brown color with a longer neck and a sweet honey like flavor.

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Concorde

Similar to the Bartlett in color, this pear is green with a tougher flesh to eat from.

Green and Red Anjou

A smaller yet compact pear that comes in either a red color or green with a high level of antioxidants.

Seckel

This pear is commonly enjoyed by many, and is green and yellow on the outside.

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Pear Uses

Many times pears get overshadowed by apples when it comes to baking desserts, or any cooking with fruit for that matter. There is an abundance of pear recipes that you can enjoy if you find yourself with an overwhelming amount of pears to consume. Perhaps you have a pear tree in your backyard and you need ideas regarding how to use them and not waste them. Pears can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Below I will include two recipes for you to try, with one being sweet and the other savory.

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Pears With Blue Cheese and Prosciutto Recipe

By: Real Simple

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 pears (such as Bosc or Bartlett), each cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 3 ounces blue cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, toss the pears and lemon juice.
  2. Layer a slice of pear, an arugula leaf, and a piece of cheese on a piece of prosciutto and roll up.
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Cinnamon Baked Pears Recipe

By: Delish

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe pears
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 tablespooon cinnamon sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup Finely Chopped Almonds
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit. Halve pears and scoop out some of the center to fit the oatmeal crumble. Brush insides of pears with 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine oats, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Pour remaining melted butter into bowl and combine until fully coated.
  3. Spoon into pear halves
  4. Bake until pears are soft, 35 to 40 minutes.
  5. Top with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve warm.
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