Sometimes I wish I could get away with eating just fruit, but of course that would not work out too well. Lately I have been oohing and ahhing over the selection of pears available at farmers markets, produce stands and grocery stores. As a kid I had access to all the tree-ripened pears I could eat, as my grandparents had a tree and so did one of my best friends. Once you get used to a tree-ripened pear (or any tree fruit), there’s no way green-picked fruit can compare. I especially love the old-fashioned Bartlett pears, even though being thin-skinned, they bruise very easily by the time you get them home from market. I thought it would be fun to share some recipes that call for fresh or even canned pears, to help set the mood for the fall season. Hope you enjoy.
Fall pear pie
8 cups thinly sliced peeled pears
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pastry for 9-inch double crust pie
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, optional
1. Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, combine pear slices, sugar, tapioca and nutmeg; let stand for 15 minutes.
2. Line a pie plate with bottom crust; add pear mixture. Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pie. Place over filling; seal and flute edges. Cut large slits in top. Brush with egg.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until pears are tender. Remove and place on wire rack and pour cream through the slits in the top crust, if desired. Makes 8 servings.
Pecan pear muffins
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups chopped peeled ripe pears (about 6 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, combine eggs, oil and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the pears and pecans.
2. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Serve warm. Makes about 2 dozen.
16 cups peeled sliced fresh pears
4 cups sugar
2 cups water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1. In a stockpot, combine pears, sugar, water and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until mixture reaches a thick, spreadable consistency.
2. Remove mixture from heat. Ladle into seven hot half-pint jars, leaving a 1/4 -inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space, if necessary, by adding hot mixture. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars; screw on bands until fingertip tight.
3. Place jars into canner, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process 10 minutes. Remove jars and allow to cool. Makes 7 half-pints.
Upside-down pear gingerbread cake
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 medium Bosc pears, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 large egg
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Whipped cream, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; stir in the 1/3 cup brown sugar. Spread over bottom of a greased 9-inch round baking pan. Arrange pear slices over top.
2. For cake: mix milk and vinegar; let stand 5 minutes. In a large bowl, beat egg, brown sugar, molasses, melted butter and milk mixture until well blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, salt and cloves; gradually beat into molasses mixture. Spoon carefully over pears.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, if desired. Makes 8 servings.