Greek poet Homer refers to the pears as a gift of the gods in his celebrated work The Odyssey. High praise indeed from a chap who’d seen a few things in his time. Our West Australian pear season is now in full swing so whether you like traditional favourites Josephine and Packham or some of the newer varieties, there’s plenty of fresh, juicy local pears to be enjoyed.
Pears are unique in that they should be ripened off the tree. Buy your pears and let them ripen slowly on the fruit bowl or hasten them along in a paper bag to capture the natural ripening gases. When ripe, the flesh at the stem should give a little when you press down lightly on it. Remember that pears ripen from the inside out, so the exterior may be a bit firm, though they will actually be quite soft on the inside.
For those who love a crisp pear, the Packham is the pick of the bunch. It is green-skinned and remains so, even when ripe. It has a white, juicy flesh, which is ideal for both eating fresh and cooking.
Another variety which is certainly an eye-catcher is the Red Sensation, the red-skinned variety of the Bartlett or Williams (as the easterners like to call them). This pear is medium in size and is full, sweet and aromatic, making them ideal for both poaching and baking.
The cinnamon coloured Beurre Bosc will be available right up to November. Sweet, buttery and delectable, it’s one of the best all-rounders for cooking. Beurre Bosc pears are perfect baked, in tarts, pan fried or used in salads, and, of course, savoured on its own.
Goldrush is a Western Australian pear which is grown under licence in the region between Pemberton and Capel. It’s similar in appearance to Beurre Bosc – exceptional eating qualities enhanced by a high natural fruit sugar.
It is hard to improve on the flavour of a soft, juicy pear, but when teamed with blue cheese or prosciutto, you’ll have something truly divine. You can also bake and pan-fry or use them in tarts or salads – both sweet and savoury. Wanting to treat yourself? Try whole pears poached in a dessert wine; sinfully decadent on those colder nights.
Pears don’t let us down in the nutrition stakes either, having one of the highest fibre rankings of all fruit, with each containing about four grams, and a very low GI status. These high fibre levels and low GI rating helps you to feel full for longer – a big bonus for people wishing to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight.
Pears are also a rich source of vitamin C, with virtually no fat or sodium and no cholesterol, and are one of the least allergenic foods available. With about one in 20 children having some kind of food sensitivity, they are ideal for kids and the perfect first food for babies.
Western Australian pears are exceptional in quality right now; be sure to indulge in the fruits of the season whether fresh from the hand or cooked. Here are some lovely Autumn recipes to tantalise those tastebuds.
Brought to you by Fresh Finesse Promotions – www.freshf.com.au
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup reduced-fat milk
- 4 ripe pears, peeled, cored, sliced
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon powder
- 2 tsp icing sugar mixture
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a shallow ovenproof pie plate.
- Combine sugar and flour in a bowl. Whisk together eggs and milk. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture. Whisk until smooth.
- Arrange pear slices decoratively in the pie plate. Spoon custard over apple. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until custard is set. Stand for five minutes. Dust with icing sugar and serve.
Porridge with pear and pistachio
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tbsp sultanas
- 1 Beurre Bosc pear cut into 5mm slices vertically
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp chopped pistachios
- Extra brown sugar and milk to serve
- Place the oats, water and milk in a saucepan. Cook over a medium heat, while stirring, for 10 minutes or until cooked.
- Stir through sultanas. Heat the grill and line a grill tray with foil. Arrange the pear slices on the foil in a single layer.
- Sprinkle with brown sugar and grill for five minutes or until the sugar bubbles.
- Spoon the porridge into four bowls, top with slices of pear and sprinkle with pistachios. Serve with extra brown sugar and a drizzle of milk.
Pear and passionfruit puddings
- 4 pears, cored and diced
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
- oil spray
- 2 passionfruit
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- Preheat oven to 180°C
- Fold in pears. Spray four cups of a muffin tray with cooking spray. Divide the pudding mixture into the muffin cups. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
- In small saucepan combine passionfruit pulp, sugar and water. Cook over low heat for five minutes.
- Pour in orange juice. Stir well. Remove from heat. Pour syrup over pear puddings to serve. Great with vanilla yoghurt.