It’s always exciting when peak pear picking season is in full swing. Finally, after all those months and possibly even years of hard work, you’ll (literally) get to enjoy the fruits of your labors! The first few pears you pick will likely be enjoyed fresh and maybe accompanied with some all-natural peanut butter. However, after a few, you might start to wonder what exactly you should do with all of these pears. Some pear trees can produce up to 50 pounds of pears. Unless you really love fresh pears, you probably need some ideas on how to cook and preserve your pears, so nothing goes to waste.
Pear season is typically around October, just when the weather is starting to get chilly. Sweaters are coming out of closets and hot drinks are being served at coffee shops. Here are some of the best ways you can cook and bake pears to get the most out of this year’s harvest.
Crisps and pies
As they say, there’s nothing more American than apple pie, but we want to challenge that with pear crisps and pies. These desserts (or morning coffee sidekicks) are sweet, soft, and spicy in all the best ways. For these types of recipes, it’s best to use firm pears that haven’t yet fully ripened. Pears that are too ripe will be gooey and turn to mush when baked. Firm pears will soften up in the oven while still maintaining a bit of their texture.
This pear puree recipe by Martha Stewart turns overripe pears into a simple yet delicious pear dessert. All you need is ripe pears, pear brandy, and sugar. Sprinkle a little powdered sugar over the squares when serving, and you’re sure to impress your dinner guests!
Another way to eat pears fresh, without baking them with a lot of sugar, is to toss them in with a salad. There are many pear salad recipes, but it seems everyone’s favorite salad companion for pears is balsamic dressing and walnuts. Add some goat cheese on top of that, and you’ve got a gourmet salad. Be sure the pears you use are ripe; pears that are too hard might clash with the salad’s other textures.
If you’re looking for an afternoon snack to accompany your spiced tea, you might want to try roasting pears. Simply halve a pear, bake it in the oven. When it’s nice and soft, serve it on a plate with a sprinkle of cinnamon, a drizzle of honey, and some chopped walnuts. It’s a sweet snack that doesn’t require any additional sugars. You could even serve these as a dessert with vanilla bean ice cream.
Sometimes preheating the oven can be annoying, but there is another way to cook up some pears in a sweet way. Sautéing pears in a bit of butter and cinnamon will fill the house with delicious smells as well as produce a soft and spiced pear that you can serve over ice cream, yogurt, or even just by itself in a bowl.
While poaching pears isn’t the easiest of tasks, we’re sure you’ll love this recipe by Giada de Laurentiis on Food Network. It uses ingredients like cinnamon sticks, honey, vanilla bean, ginger, and dessert wine to create a complex and mouth-watering dessert. It’s suggested to use firm pears that aren’t too mushy, or else they’ll fall apart while being poached.
Charcuterie boards have become one of the most popular food trends that people are constantly striving to perfect. The best part of these beautiful boards is the flexibility to add or subtract anything you want. Pears are often featured on cheese boards, and we highly recommend them. They’re a great way to take a break from intense cheeses and seasoned crackers.
Even though the above recipes are sure to use up a lot of your pears, there’s sometimes just no way to use them all up. Of course, sharing them with friends and family is always a great way to spread the joy of fresh pears, but you might still end up with pears you haven’t used. This is where preserving your pears comes in handy.
The most obvious and popular way to preserve food is by canning. Many of us have probably eaten soft and delicious canned pears that come in the fruit juice. You can easily make your own canned pears and enjoy your pears even into the depths of winter. Like the baked and roasted pear options above, it’s best to use pears that aren’t too soft when canning them. Canning means cooking them, and if they’re too soft, they will turn mushy and not hold their shape in the jar.
While dehydrated pears won’t last as long as canned pears, they will still stay fresh in your pantry for much longer than a fresh pear. If you have a dehydrator, this task is as simple as slicing your pears and putting them in the dehydrator for 10 to 12 hours. If you have to use your oven, the process is precisely the same.
There are so many ways you can cook, bake, toss, slice, pair, and preserve your large pear harvest. We suggest trying out something from every method and sharing as much of them as you can. One of the best parts of producing your own food is sharing the joy with the ones you love.
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