A Pear A Day...
Pears are among the most versatile fall and wintertime fruits. They start popping up around the end of summer and remain available well into the winter. This late-season fruit is grown on pear trees and shrubs in China, Europe, the United States, and other areas throughout the world. There are many pair varieties available, and they're all a little different.
With dozens of heirlooms and domesticated types, there's no lack of pear variety, and most of them have unique nuances worth noting. Next time you're at an autumn farmers market, get a few types to try and suss out all the subtle and not-so-subtle differences found in this fruit.
A Bit(e) of Fame
Each pear has its own unique story of how it came to be. The sweet, juicy, buttery textured pear, from which our vomFASS Williams Christ Pear Balsamic Star is made is no exception…
Supposedly a pear seed was brought to France by an Italian friar from Calambria. The French named this pear variety Bon Chrétien (Good Christian). Eventually a British nurseryman named Williams acquired the variety, and as he introduced it throughout England, the pear became known as the Williams Bon Chrétien pear. This was shortened to Williams pear and today these fruits can be found throughout Europe.
In 1799, Williams pear trees were imported to Massachusetts and were planted on an estate acquired by Enoch Bartlett. Bartlett later propagated and introduced the pear under his own name, unaware that the variety was already established as Williams in Europe. Twenty-five years after it was introduced in the United States, it was discovered that the Bartlett and the Williams were the same variety and today it is still known by the two names in Europe and the United States (with about 150 other synonyms worldwide). Approximately 50% of the pear production in the US is the Bartlett variety.
Ever wonder why doesn’t anyone go pear bobbing? We have the answer here!
Why does an apple, like a pear in so many other ways, sail cheerfully around the top of the bucket whereas when you drop a pear in a bucket of water it sinks like a stone? Apples and pears turn out to be strikingly different on the inside. The size of their cells is similar: 160-200 microns across, which is 6-8 thousandths of an inch. But apple cells are loosely packed around big gas voids, while the slightly smaller pear cells are tightly packed, with only narrow, ribbonlike gas channels running around them. The fraction of an apple’s volume that is gas, known as the void fraction, varies between varieties: 25% for Jonagold and 18% for Braeburn, but for a pear it’s a lowly 6%.
As an aside, this could account for the 30% more fiber pears have in comparison to apples. In this regard, a pear is better than an apple a day.
Incredibly versatile, enhancing both savory and sweet dishes, pears are a welcome addition to cocktails, breads, salads, appetizers, entrées, and desserts. They are delicious fresh or cooked in many ways. Pears are favored for their unique shape, rich coloring, sweet flavor, and smooth texture, and can be used in a wide variety of culinary applications, including the creation of pear vinegar!
Pears take on a new character when combined with cheese and wine. The flavor, scent, and texture of each pear variety enhances both wine and cheese flavors. Like apples, the pear's flesh is prone to oxidation when sliced. This can be prevented by dipping the raw pear slices in lemon juice (or, Williams Christ Pear Balsamic Star for more complementary flavor) immediately after they're cut.
Our Williams Christ Pear Balsamic Star is equally as adaptable. Try the recipes below or create your own! This sweet and tangy specialty compliments gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, garlic, onions, shallots, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, pomegranate seeds, strawberry, apple, spinach, pork, chicken, lamb, oysters, oregano, rosemary, parsley, mint, cilantro, cinnamon, allspice, and honey. Make a nutty pear vinaigrette with Williams Christ Pear Balsamic Star and FassZination Walnut oil and drizzle it on a winter fruit salad of apples and pomegranates or toss it on a bed of romaine with blue cheese and walnuts.