In the Past: Pears are an ancient fruit; their history can be traced back to about 1000 B.C. Pears are native to Asia and Europe and were brought to North America in the 1600’s where they were first planted in Massachusetts. In China, the pear is considered to be a symbol of immortality. Pears were sacred both in Greek and Roman mythology. Ancient greek people used pears as a natural remedy for nausea. Today, towns with an abundance of pear trees often include the word “Perry” in the name of the town.
In the Soil: Pears grow on trees that have heart-shaped leaves. Pear trees can grow up to 40 feet tall and live for 75 years. Pears are part of the rose family. Pears are picked before they are ripe, the ripen best off of the tree.
In the Kitchen: Pears are a popular choice for pie, bread, and cake; poached pears are a popular dessert. Pears are also excellent in salads, soups, and on surprisingly tasty on pizza. Pears used to be called “butter fruit” for its soft, butter-like texture. The Bartlett pears is the most popular variety of pear in the United States. Pear wood is used to make wooden kitchen utensils because it doesn’t impart any color or odor to food and because it can withstand repeated trips through the dishwasher without splintering or warping.
In the Body: Pears are one of the highest-fiber fruits, a medium-sized fruit has six grams of fiber and about 100 calories. Pears contain vitamins C, K, B2, B3, B6, folate, as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium, copper, potassium and manganese. Boron is also found in pears which helps us retain calcium. Pears are often considered to be hypoallergenic because pear allergies are rare.
In Connecticut: Pears grown in Connecticut are generally available August through mid-September, though proper storage may extend availability.