Catrinel Stanciu | 12/22/2005 3:59:51 AM
We’ve heard it many times that a healthy diet should include plenty fruits and vegetables. Also, variety is very important to get all the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy.
In observance of January as Pear Month, LSU AgCenter food and nutrition expert Catrinel Stanciu recommends eating pears, because they are a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C when eaten raw with the skin on.
Canned pears, by contrast, are less nutritious, because they don’t have the skin, which is where the vitamin C is.
Pears have no cholesterol, saturated fat or sodium. For a healthy snack, Stanciu says simply wash the fruit and slice it up or just bite in. Pears taste best at room temperature.
If you seldom or never have eaten a pear, this would be a good time to give one a try, Stanciu adds.
Pears come in several varieties. Some are better raw, and others are better cooked. Four popular varieties are Bartlett, Anjou, Bosc and Comice. Each has a different color and shape, with a subtle difference in flavor and texture.
Anjou pears are the most abundant in the winter and the least expensive of all varieties. They have a smooth yellow-green skin and creamy flesh that tastes blander than the other varieties.
Bartlett pears, the leading summer pears, are mostly used for canning, and they are also the only pears sold dried.
The Bosc variety is best for baking and poaching, since it holds its shape well when cooked. Comice, on the other hand, is the perfect ingredient for a gift box or a fruit basket. This variety is very sweet and flavorful.
The peak season for pears is August through October, but one variety or another is available year round. Pears are not picked when ripe. Therefore, you need to let them ripen at home. Stanciu offers two options to attain the best flavor.
One, refrigerate the pears until you are ready to ripen them (take them out of the refrigerator several days before you want to serve them and let them ripen at room temperature).
Or, two, ripen the pears at room temperature, and then refrigerate them for no longer than a day or two before eating them.
Other serving suggestions include baking (stuffed pears), sautéing (for a sweet and spicy side dish) or served raw (peeled, halved and cored) with cheese. Stanciu recommends Brie or Camembert. Cooked pears are enhanced by warm spices, like nutmeg, cloves or allspice.
For related nutrition topics, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter home page, at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
On the Internet: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/5aday/month/pear.htm
Source: Catrinel Stanciu (225) 578-6924, or firstname.lastname@example.org