Pears with their graceful shape and floral flavor have an elegance that few fruits can command. They have a distinctive, pleasantly grainy texture that distinguishes them from their botanical cousins, apples.
Pears and apples are often interchangeable in recipes, but using pears is a sure way to amp up the classiness factor in a dessert.
Pears are perfect with cheese; a strong blue cheese and a sweet juicy pear are a match made in heaven.
Pears, like apples, come in a multitude of sizes and types. There are two main varieties: bell-shaped European varieties and round apple-crisp Asian pears.
Pears are best in late summer and fall. Ripe pears will have a slight give at their neck and a pleasant floral aroma.
Pears ripen off the tree, which is why they can come to market rock hard. They will soften when left at room temperature, but tucking them into a sealed paper bag with a banana speeds up the process. Pears suited for eating out of hand or serving with cheese are juicy Anjou, Bartletts or Comice (think ABC).
When cooking, use the dense, tan-skinned Bosc pears. They transform into delicious tender fruit when roasted or poached.
For a great all-purpose pear, seek out the speckled pint-sized Forelle. Asian pears, which are crisp and juicy, are great sliced in salads and relishes.
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