Did you know that there are thousands of varieties of pears around the world? These sweet fruits have been cultivated for centuries and while there are endless varieties, only about 10 are grown and sold commercially. Pear varieties differ in texture and sweetness. For instance, Seckel and Bose pears and crisp and less sweet compared to soft and juicy Bartlett pears and the exceptionally sweet Comice pear. Pears were once called “butter fruit” due to their soft, butter-like texture.
Pears actually ripen best off the tree. To ripen pears at home, place the fruit in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature. Ripe pears will give slightly when gentle thumb pressure is applied to the neck near the stem end. Once ripe, pears should be stored in the refrigerator. The cold temperature also enhances their flavor. Rinse with cool water prior to eating. Like apples, pears brown when they are exposed to air. This can be prevented by coating the pears in an acidic juice like orange, lemon or pineapple juice.
Not only are pears delicious on their own straight out of the refrigerator, but they also make a great meat accompaniment when sprinkled with brown sugar and light butter and broiled. Pear slices can also add some sweetness to a cheese and nut platter.
Baked ham with Ohio pears
- 3 fresh pears
- 1 cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce
- 1 teaspoon slivered or grated orange rind
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons of melted butter or margarine
- 1/4 cup roasted, diced almonds
- Baked ham
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pare, halve, and core pears; place cut sides up in baking dish. Mix together all remaining ingredients except ham; spoon into pear halves, pouring liquid over and around pears. Cover dish tightly and bake in 350 degree oven 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm as accompaniment for baked ham.
The Athens Farmers Market Café is a collaboration between the Athens Farmers Market, OU COMCorps, a local Americorps program, and Athens County Children Services. Athens Farmers Market hours are Wednesdays (April-December) and Saturdays (year round), 9 a.m. to noon at The Market on State parking lot, 1000 E. State St., Athens. To help increase fresh food consumption, the Athens Farmers Market vendors proudly participate in the following social service programs: the USDA Food Assistance Program, SNAP/EBT (food stamps), WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Participants can stop by the table at the southeast corner of the market to get SNAP tokens to spend at the market.