By Vicky Babcock
Because they are considered hypoallergenic, pears are often one of the first foods we introduce to babies. Soft and easily digestible compared to other fruits, these are excellent choices for first time foods. As children, we remember growing up with canned pears and Fruit Cocktail. Given that association, many of us might label the pear as a “kid” food.
Not so. Pears—especially in its natural state—are an excellent choice for our diets at any age! Even more so than others, pears are a fruit that should be consumed with the skin intact, as the skin contains a majority of the phytonutrients (about 75-80%) and about one-half of the dietary fiber. These phytonutrients have been shown to provide us with antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory benefits. Consumption of pears has been associated with reduced risk of several chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes—often referred to as adult-onset diabetes.
In addition, the consumption of pears has been shown to aid in the prevention of cancers such as colon, stomach and esophageal cancers.
The pear is a member of the rose family, joining a large group of fruits including apples, cherries, peaches, plums, raspberries and strawberries. It is an Old World fruit, originating in both Europe and Asia as well as some parts of Africa. The ancient Chinese believed the pear to be the symbol of immortality.
There are over 3000 varieties of pears throughout the world. Most pears grown in the United States are of European origin. The Bartlett, best known of these varieties, is most often the choice for canned pears. In Europe, it is known as the Williams. It was renamed by a Bostonian, Enoch Bartlett when he purchased an orchard and began distributing them himself, not knowing they were already named. Other varieties you might recognize include the Bosc, the Green Anjou, the Red Anjou and the Red Bartlett. Red varieties are higher in nutritional value as they contain anthrcyanins, a powerful antioxidant .
Because a pear ripens from the inside out, it can be difficult to determine when it is ripe. We recommend pressing gently at the top of the pear near its stem. If it gives to pressure it is likely ripe for eating.
Ginger Glazed Chicken and Pears a la Orange
2-3 T. butter
About 8-10 chicken tenders
Morton’s Nature’s Seasons or similar seasoned salt
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. white vinegar
1/4 cup (or less) sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 T. dry white wine
½ cup orange juice or 2 T. orange liquor
1 onion, cut thin
1 unpeeled pear, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup rice, cooked in 2 cups water with 2 bullion cubes (3 cups cooked rice)
Season chicken with Nature’s Seasons and braise lightly in butter in large pan over medium heat on both sides. Remove from pan—do not rinse pan. Add soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and ginger and heat until sugar melts. Add wine and orange juice—stir. Add onion, pear slices and chicken; cover and simmer over medium low heat until chicken is cooked through and onion is tender—about 12 minutes. Serve over rice. Add a couple leaves of Arugula to the side of the plate. (Although this was originally intended for garnish, it adds a nutty flavor that truly enhances this dish!) Serves 4-6.
Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue. For more information call 616-696-1718. Like us on facebook for updates.