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Simple Servings

Pears-a-plenty welcome fall

Carol Cogliano
Hollabaugh Bros., Inc.

(10/2017) Happy Fall! Among the various fruits and vegetables that are harvested this time of year, fresh pears are easily one of the favorite autumn crops, here at Hollabaugh Bros., Inc. Before I began working here, my knowledge and taste for pears was limited to what was available at the grocery storeÖ so minimal, at best. Since I am now surrounded by many different pear varieties during my work day, I have had the wonderful opportunity to try them and learn a bit more about this juicy autumn fruit. So hereís your "Pears 101" crash course; information provided from 3rd generation Hollabaugh Family.

Varieties: There are European varieties of pears (Bartlett, Seckel, Bosc, etc.) and Asian varieties of pears (Hosui, Yoinashi, Olympic, etc.). They are very different in taste and texture! All originated from wild forests that existed in those areas over the millennia.

Ripeness: Often people donít know when to eat a pear, or when it will taste best. Different varieties are different, but generally, you donít want to wait until the whole pear (European) is soft before eating - you just want the stem-end to be a bit soft. A lot of the European varieties will also shift from an undertone of green to more yellow. Asians are best when their undertone is more of a golden bronze. The skin color always tells the story. Due to some of the growing challenges, there is some meaningful pear breeding going on in the country.

As "potentially good" varieties start to emerge, one of the biggest challenges growers have is knowing not just when to eat a pear but also how to ripen it. Interestingly, not all European pears ripen best on the tree. In fact, some really wonít ripen unless harvested at a certain stage of maturity and then stored in the cold storage for a time. On the tree they just kind of go from green and hard to soft and mushy. So what do we mean by being "ready"? Well, it depends on taste.

Some pears will get sweet and then their flesh will mellow and become "melting" Ė Bartlett is a great example. However, there are pears that must be eaten "crisp" or the flesh just turns to mush. With new varieties, one never knows which is "right" Ė except through trial and error. To add further confusion, some varieties wonít really get "good" on the tree but become wonderful after being stored for a period (and that period can vary). Itís truly a much more complicated beast than most other tree fruits!

Poached Pears

You can poach the pears in halves or whole. Note that the poaching time will be longer if the pears are in larger pieces than quarters. The best way to test if the pears are done is by poking one with a paring knife; if it meets no resistance, itís done. Recipe courtesy of: www.davidlebovitz.com

Ingredients: (Makes 4 servings)

  • 1 quart (1l) water
  • 1 1/3 cup (265 g) sugar
  • 4 Bosc pears; peeled, cored, and quartered
  • Additions: One cinnamon stick, 2 teaspoons whole cloves, black peppercorns or allspice berries, one lemon half, one split vanilla bean, 2-3 star anise, 6-8 fresh ginger slices

Instructions:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the water and sugar until warm and the sugar is dissolved. Add any of the additions that you wish.
  2. Slide in the pears and cover with a round of parchment paper, with a small hole cut in the center.
  3. Keep the liquid at a very low boil and simmer the pears until cooked through, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the pears.
  4. Remove from heat and let the pears cool in their liquid.

Optional: After poaching the pears, while the liquid is still warm, add approximately 1/2 cup (120 g) dried sour cherries, cranberries, raisins, or dried currants and let them plump.

Serving:

Serve the pears warm or at room temperature. Accompany with perhaps a scoop of Vanilla ice cream and some dark chocolate sauce, a spoonful of crPme fraÓche, Milk chocolate & black pepper ice cream, fresh raspberries, or alongside a wedge of spice cake or gingerbread.

Storage:

Store the pears in their liquid in the refrigerator, in a covered container, until ready to use. Remove the pears from the refrigerator a few hours prior to serving, and re-warm them gently in the liquid, if you wish. The pears will keep for up to 5 days.

Autumn Spice Pear Cobbler

Sweet pears and a wonderful, warm blend of spices combine for this simple and delicious Autumn Spice Pear Cobbler. Recipe courtesy of: www.bakeorbreak.com. Yield: 6 to 8 servings. Prep Time: 25 minutes.

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 medium pears, peeled and chopped into about 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • sanding sugar, for garnish (optional)

Instructions to make the filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 350EF.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pears, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt, and stir to combine.
  3. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is bubbly. Allow the mixture to bubble for 2 or 3 minutes, or until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Transfer the filling to a 1-quart baking dish. Set aside while you make the topping.

Instructions to make the topping:

  1. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.
  2. Add the butter, and mix with a pastry blender, a fork, or your fingers until the butter is about the size of peas.
  3. Add about 3 tablespoons of the milk, and continue mixing the dough. Add the remaining milk, a small amount at a time, and mix just until the dough comes together.
  4. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls over the top of the filling. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, if using.
  5. Place the baking dish on a lined, rimmed baking sheet to catch any potential spills.
  6. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbly.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cinnamon Baked Pears

These healthy individual baked pears will satisfy all your sweet cravings. Recipe courtesy of: www.delish.com

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe pears
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon sugar
  • 1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. Finely Chopped Almonds
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ļ. Halve pears and scoop out some of the center to fit the oatmeal crumble. Brush insides of pears with 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine oats, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Pour remaining melted butter into bowl and combine until fully coated.
  3. Spoon into pear halves.
  4. Bake until pears are soft, 35 to 40 minutes.
  5. Top with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve warm.

Easy Italian Pear Cake

The perfect Breakfast, Snack or Dessert Cake. Recipe courtesy of: anitalianinmykitchen.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pears

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 340E. Lightly grease and flour a 9" (23 1/2 centimeter) cake pan (I used a spring-form pan)
  2. Clean and peel the pears, one pear chop into medium-sized cubes and the other pear thin slices, set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, at medium speed beat eggs and sugar until creamy, add mascarpone and continue beating until smooth.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, corn starch, baking powder and baking soda.
  5. Stir in with a wooden spoon the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, stir gently to combine, then add the oil and stir to combine.
  6. Fold in the medium-sized cubed pear, spoon into prepared cake pan.
  7. Top with sliced pears and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons (40 grams) sugar.
  8. Bake approximately 45 - 60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Carol Cogliano is the Director of Events at Hollabaugh Bros., Inc. which is located at 545 Carlisle Road, Biglerville, PA 17307. Visit www.hollabaughbros.com for a full listing of their upcoming events and classes or call 717-677-8412 for more information.

Read other articles by Carol Cogliano