Both pear and apples belong to the rose family, Rosaceae and are both Pome fruits. The pear skin is a good source of dietary fibre but pears have a much shorter shelf life than apples. Pear trees can live up to 75 (-100) years.
The main producers are China, USA, Argentina, Italy and Turkey. In the USA, 95% of the pear grown, is in California, Oregon and Washington states.
Like bananas, pears are rarely tree-ripened. They are picked when mature, but still green and firm. They ripen in the supermarket. If pears are left to ripen on the tree, the flesh will become mealy and unpleasant to eat.
Green pears are tasteless and gritty but as they ripen, the starch is converted to sugar and their flesh becomes softer, sweeter, juicier, with an almost melting texture hence the nickname “butter fruit” for smoothly fleshed pear cultivars. The flesh of pears, contains stone cells also called “grit”.
Common species of pears:
There are several species of cultivated pears, but the following three are the most commonly used commercially.
- European Pear Pyrus communis subsp. communis
- The Ya Pear or Chinese white pear, Pyrus × bretschneideri. Native to northern China, where it’s widely grown for it’s fruit.
- Asian Pear or Chinese Pear: Pyrus pyrifolia. The edible fruit is known by many names, including: Nashi Pear, Apple Pear, Japanese Pear, Japanese Apple Pear, Korean Pear, Taiwan Pear or Sand Pear and is grown mainly in Eastern Asia and also in Australia, New Zealand and California. It’s a native to China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.
The rest of the species are used as rootstocks for European or Asian Pears and some, as ornamentals.
Other minor Species
P. sinkiangensi (West China), P. pashia (South South Asia, China), Siberian pear (P. ussuriensis); the willow leaved pear (Pyrus salicifolia) is grown as an ornamental for its attractive, slender, densely silvery hairy leaves.
100g (3.4oz) serving of pear or small pear provides no essential nutrients but has 15.23 g carbohydrates, 9.75g sugars, dietary fibre (3.1g) and trace amounts of fat and protein and vitamin C (5%), RDA. The pear skin has most of the dietary fibre and the vitamin C. The process of canning pears, lowers the negligible amount of vitamin C because canned fruit are peeled.
Use of Pears
Pears are consumed, fresh, canned, as juice, nectar or dried. The juice or pulp can be used in jellies and jams in combination with other fruits or berries.
Fermented Pear Juice
Pears are also used to make fermented pear juice, called Perry or Pear Cider.
- How to Shop for Pears
- How to Store Pears
- How to cook Pears: Bake, Poach and Sauté