Popular cooking methods for pears include poaching (in wine, syrup, fruit juice, water) and baking. Pears shine in baked goods like tarts, piesand cakes. And because they are related to apples, it's generally understood that if a recipe calls for apples, pears can be substituted. For centuries, cooks have also made jams, preserves, and chutneys. Like many fruits, pears are also used to produce liqueurs. One of the most popular is the eau-de-vie de poire, a pear-flavored brandy. Belle de Brillet, a French Cognac, uses 22 pounds of Williams pears for each bottle! Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger complement the fruit in both edible and drinkable recipes. For more pear-centric drinks, click here. And be sure to check out our visual guide to pears.
Pick a winner
Choose pears that are firm to the touch and don't have bruises or cuts. Some pears are wrapped in paper, which protects the pears and helps keep them unblemished.
Touch and go
Not sure if your pears are ripe? Touch the top of the fruit near the stem. If it's firm with a little bit of give, your pear is ripe.
Brown bag it
Hasten the ripening process by placing the pears in a brown paper bag at room temperature. But beware: Pears ripen very quickly. Overripe pears are pulpy and the flesh will be mealy.
A chilly encounter
Pears can also be kept in the fridge but not for more than two or three days.
An acid trip
Prevent premature browning by sprinkling some lemon juice on the parts of the fruit's flesh that are exposed to air. Interestingly, this works on European pears such as the Bartlett and the Comice but not on Asian pears.
Photo by Marcus Nilsson
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