The pear is the fruit of the pear tree of the genus Pyrus, in the family Rosaceae. Botanically it is a prome fruit that is delicious, juicy, sweet, refreshing, and crunchy.
The pear is grown for its edible fruit which can be eaten as well as squeezed to extract the clear juice. The fruit is somewhat related to the apple, loquat, medlar, and quince among others.
This fruit has been found historically around the sub-tropical and temperate coastal regions ranging from North Africa and Europe all through to Asia.
The fruit grows off a medium-sized tree that can reach 10 to 17 meters tall with leaves that are 2 to 12 centimeters long. The tree is a deciduous tree with some Asian species being evergreen. The tree is frost resistant and can withstand very cold temperatures of the North.
The tree bears flowers that are white in color with 5 petals and 2 to 4 centimeters in diameter. The fruit as we know it is medium-sized with thin edible skin. Some varieties have gritty skin while others bear smooth skin. The flesh is pale white and is riddled with stone cells. The core bears several seeds wrapped in a cartilaginous membrane. The seeds are generally inedible.
The Asian varieties generally have a crispy and crunchy flesh even when ripe while the European varieties tend to become soft and juicy when ripe. The fruit is normally distinct from apples with its skin being green, reddish-orange, or yellow-orange in color. It has thin skin and usually takes on a bell shape. This is where we get the common “Pear Shape” distinction.
Fresh fruit can be purchased in the markets all year round depending on the variety and source. When purchasing the fruit should feel heavy in hand. They should be firm and not have bruises, cuts, or dents on the surface. They should not show signs of mold. Soft spots should also be avoided as this is a sign of bad flesh beneath the surface.
Asian varieties have rough rusty looking skin. This is normal. The ripe fruit should be firm but with a little pressure, they should appear to yield. Premature fruit generally does not yield in the same manner. Overripe fruit tends to yield without applying pressure.
The pear can be stored at room temperature where it continues to ripen. You may, therefore, want to keep them in a refrigerator to keep for a few days.
Preparing the Pear for Culinary Purposes
The fruits should be washed under cold running water to remove dirt, soil, fungicide, and pesticide residue. Pat the fruit dry with a paper towel or kitchen towel. Cut off both ends and cut into two halves. The central core with its seeds should then be cut off and discarded.
The pear turns on exposure due to the iron in them turning from ferrous oxide to ferric oxide. You should, therefore, sprinkle lemon juice or an acid solution such as vinegar on them to stop this from happening.
The fruit can be eaten with or without skin. The most nutritious part of the pear is just beneath the skin so it is more beneficial to consume the pear with the skin on it.
Pear can be eaten as is as a refreshing snack. It can also be used raw as an ingredient in vegetable and fruit salad, pie, and dessert dishes. They can be squeezed or blended to extract juice to use in cocktail mixes, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Pear can also be eaten cooked as backed in a pie, cake, and other dessert dishes. It can also be mashed and served in baby food cooked or raw. Commercially they are used to make juice and jam.
Pears contain just 58 calories per 100 grams. They are rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals. They contain no cholesterol or proteins. There is found trace amounts of fats in the fruit which is a relatively good source of carbohydrates.
The fruit contains good amounts of vitamin C and vitamin K and contains lesser amounts of the B-complex vitamins most notably folates, riboflavin, and pyridoxine.
It is a good source of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. It is also a good source of potassium.