Market Mondays – Pears

Pears are the less glamorous cousin of the apple. In the same family as the apple, along with roses and quince, pears have been cultivated for thousands of years in Asia, are referenced in Roman and Celtic texts and are thought to possibly date back to the Stone Age. Popular in Britain and France where they were beloved for their use in perry (pear cider), the first pears were cultivated in North America in 1620. Pears were originally eaten cooked, not raw (they were probably closer to a quince), until the 18th century when they were cultivated to have the soft, juicy and buttery flesh that we know today.

There are over 130 varieties of pears grown in Canada, but here in Ontario, there are five major varieties that are grown for sale; Bartlett, Clapp’s Favourite, Anjou, Bosc and Flemish Beauty. Growers hope that a new variety, Harovin Sundown, will eventually be added to that list, although it will be 2015 before the pears will be widely available in stores.

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Pears Are the Perfect Fruit for Fall

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We all know the phrase about comparing apples and oranges. We tell someone they’re a peach if we think they’re especially kind, and plum good is better than just plain good any day.

But what of the lowly pear? The average Canadian eats a mere 2 pounds of pears a year; they tend to be overlooked at harvest time when the other more extroverted fruit take centre stage. Yet pears are not only great eaten out of hand, they can be a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes, and make delicious wine and cider.

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