By Lori Rice
Known for their sweet flavor and juicy, hearty texture, pears are an asset to any healthy eating plan. Eaten whole with the nutritious skin, this fruit provides 4 g of dietary fiber, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pears are also a good source of potassium and vitamin C. They make an excellent addition to seasonal salads. Just slice one up and toss it with fresh greens and a strong, flavorful cheese such as Gorgonzola, then add a light dressing such as a raspberry vinaigrette.
Traditionally the pear was reserved as a popular fruit in the autumn and winter, with peak season being August to December. Now thanks to varieties such as Green Anjou and Red Anjou, which are plentiful into the early summer months of May and June, this satisfying fruit can be enjoyed year-round. Pears grow in many areas of the United States, including Washington, Oregon, California, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Some of the more common varieties available are the Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc. Other varieties also available in the United States include Comice, Forelle, Seckel, Asian, Stark Crimson and Taylor's Gold.
What to Look for
Pears are known for ripening quickly once they are harvested from the tree, so it is fine to choose one that is brighter green in color or firm to the touch. The fruit will ripen on its own in a few days when left at room temperature, or you can place it in a sealed paper bag to speed up the process.
The skin of a ripe pear will indent under the pressure of a light press of the finger, especially at the stem or neck area. Once pears are ripened, they can be stored in the refrigerator. At this stage, they should stay fresh for about 3 more days.
The skin of the pear may exhibit what is called "russeting." This is simply a brown speckling that occurs on the surface and is normal in small amounts on certain types, specifically the Bosc. It should not be confused with dark bruises or deep blemishes that should be avoided when picking out quality pears.
Canned pears are a tempting option for variety or when the fresh fruit is not available. While a fresh pear is nutritionally superior due to the extra fiber that exists in the skin, the canned variety can still be a healthy option. Avoid canned pears that state, "Packed in heavy syrup." This can indicate that the product has excess sugar and calories.
Smart Shopping for Pears originally published on LIVESTRONG.COM
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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ginnerobot/ / CC BY-SA 2.0
By Lori Rice