Pear-fect! October 22, 2007

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One of my favorite fruits is coming to harvest and I have to let you know about it. The Comice Pear - that bulbous light-green pear with a dimple in the bottom is one of the best-tasting pears of the season. It is nicknamed the "peach of fall" and for good reason. When ripe (it should give slightly to the touch at the stem) it will have an incredibly smooth and juicy texture. Its flavor always seems lemon-pear-cinnamon to me (if such a thing indeed exists). Before you hunt for the Comice in your crate this week (west coast crates will have them, east coast are still about a week or two from harvest), I wanted to go over some basics about pears.
I have to give credit to the www.usapears.com website which has great resources about fruit and ripeness. Pears are an interesting fruit in that they don't ripen well on the tree. They are picked firm but mature and then ripen after harvest. Pears ripen from the inside out and are producers of ethylene gas - a naturally occurring ripening agent that converts the starch in the pear into sugar. Unripe pears will sometimes have an astringent taste-this is the starch before it converts. Generally you can tell a ripe pear by touch - just press lightly around the stem. If it yields to pressure - even if the middle is not yet tender, the pear is ripe (see diagram).
Please note that Bosc Pears (the russet-brown colored pears) and Concord Pears (green-yellow and elongated) eat well when firm or soft, but no pear eats well if it's too soft. The ripening of pears is affected dramatically by how you store it. At 72 degrees, pears will ripen in 3 to 5 days. The FruitGuys ships pears that are on the firm side of ripeness so this delicate fruit is not bruised during delivery. You can speed up the ripening process by placing the pears in a brown paper bag with other pears or apples. When pears reach their ideal firm-ripe stage, ripening can be slowed by storing them at temperatures between 32 to 45 degrees.
We have different pear mixes by region because we make a concerted effort to buy local between the east and west coasts. Thus please check out the section on our site that explains what each fruit is by area: http://fruitguys.com/office-fruit-delivery/this-weeks-mix

 

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