Are Pears Good For you? High in fiber and full of antioxidants is always a good combination and you’ll find both in pears. Pears are a bell shaped fruit that is considered to be a healthy food. Healthy lifestyles with a balanced nutritional diet shouldn’t be thought of in terms of “how good is a food for you”. It’s your overall diet that matters. Pears are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium, Copper, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium.
Many fruits, pears included, contain a higher amount of fructose than glucose, making them a high FODMAP food. People who have digestive issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) usually avoid these foods.
A diet high in FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyphenols, thanks wikipedia), may increase gas, bloating, pain, and diarrhea in some individuals who are sensitive to these.
What can you substitute for pears in recipes?
You can substitute pears and apples for each other in recipes. Pears are similar to apples in texture but their flavor is slightly different. The two fruits do compliment each other and they do have a lot of similarities. If you mix pears and apples in a pie, you’ll find few people that can actually distinguish there’s two flavors in there. Both pears and apples have numerous varieties. Most pears tend to be less tart than some of the apple varieties but pears carry plenty of sweetness. Both fruits are relatively the same size so it would pretty much be a one for one ratio for a swap either way.
I find pears to be slightly more sweeter than apples. Of course it depends on the variety of pear and apple again, but generally when adding to recipes, pears tend to be on the sweeter side compared to apples for me. Taste them to know the pear’s sweetness before adding it to your recipe for substitution or otherwise.
Another fruit that can substitute back and forth with pears would be mango. I’ve yet to find a recipe that I substituted mango in for pears and was displeased. However, there have been times when I had to add more sweetness to the mango to boost it up to a pear level of sweetness.
Are pears good for Gut Health?
Pears are generally considered a healthy food to eat because of their high fiber and and nutrients. Pears are kind of unique in that they have a significant amount of soluble and insoluble fiber. If you have an underlying digestive condition, then you may have issues eating pears.
Pears are considered a high fiber food and people trying to avoid high fiber diets will avoid pears for this reason. People suffering from IBS, IBD, Crohns, and Ulcerative colitis wouldn’t consider pears a healthy food to them.
However, if you look at some of the conclusions from a systematic review of pears at the National Library of Medicine, you can see the NLM could see the correlation between dietary fiber, gut health, and pears. They noted that more studies with pears concerning this and an individual’s gut health were needed “urgently”. The NLM has already made their thoughts known on dietary fiber, so you can see where their going with their inquiries into pears.
What foods go well with Pears?
Because pears are lightly sweet, they pair well with many fruits and vegetables. The sweetness of a pair will moderate inconvenient stronger flavors trickling in from other vegetables. Experiment with your own combinations. Use this list simply as a guideline. Easily we can include apples for a pairing with pears. However, feel free to try your hand at pairing your pears with:
- Greens: arugula, cabbage, endive, radicchio, spinach, collard greens, and ALL lettuce.
- Fruits: apples bananas, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, dates, figs, pineapple, plums, raspberries, and ALL citrus.
- Vegetables: celery, fennel, garlic, onions, parsnips, persimmons, rhubarb, shallots, and squash (including zucchini).
- Dairy: butter, cream, crème fraiche, ice cream, mascarpone, ricotta, sour cream, and of course yogurt. Don’t forget the cheeses, blue cheese, cheddar, brie, feta, goat cheese, and Parmesan cheese. The saltiness of the Parmesan balances well with the sweetness of pairs.
- Meats: Pork would be at the top of the list followed by chicken, beef, duck, and turkey. I’ve had countless dishes with wild game and fowl that included pears.
- Herbs & Spices: (recommended) allspice, anise, black pepper, chives, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, mint, nutmeg, rosemary, tarragon, thyme and of course vanilla. Virtually all herbs and spices will go well with pears because the sweetness tends to temper any misguided flavors from the combination in my experience. Consider this list a recommendation and explore your own combinations.
- Misc: Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Legumes such as beans, lentils, cashews and peanuts. Sweets like agave nectar, caramel, chocolate, honey, molasses and maple syrup. Alcohol like cognac, bourbon, brandy, wine (both red and white), and vodka.
How do you select your pears?
Most of what you’ll find in today’s markets for pears are unripened and should be taken home to ripen up. Pears should be firm but not hard. Like most fruits, you want smooth skin with no bruises. Avoid soft spots, puncture wounds and general decay.
The skin of your pear may or may not be the same color all around. Several varieties of pears have some speckling on them and can be shades of green and red.
A pear is ripe and ready to eaten when it will yield slightly, when you hold it in your hand and gently press near the stem with your thumb. If it feels extremely soft, the pear has over-ripened. Reserve these pears for cooking and baking rather than raw in salads or eating out of hand.
How do you store pears?
Pears are very perishable once they are ripe and if you selected the right pears (as mentioned above), your pears will need to be ripened after bringing them home. Allow them to sit at room temperature away from heat (including sunlight). Once ripe, store your pears in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process and you should use them within a few days. If you peel your pears and let them sit, they will brown similar to apples will. You should slow down that process the same as you would for apples if your pears are going to sit for a time. Lemon juice works fine.
Can You Freeze Pears?
You can freeze pears but expect them to brown when they get thawed out. Sliced pears given a salt water bath before freezing will prevent the browning. I usually will peel them too, but you don’t have to. A couple tablespoons of salt in a bowl while I peel.. then soak them for about five minutes and rinse. If done right, you shouldn’t taste the salt.
To freeze your pears, lay them out on a tray individually after their salt bath then freeze. Once they are frozen you can gather them all up and put them in a freezer container or freezer bag. You should think about how you are going to use your pears. If you’re going to add them as a puree or chopped up for muffins then that can be done beforehand and frozen. If you are going to poach your pears then it’s best to leave them halved and just give them the salt bath treatment mentioned and freeze.
Generally speaking, I like to keep all fruit as I find them in the market. Markets like ALL their produce to last as long as it possibly can, so they will store their produce to facilitate that end. In the case of these Asian pears, I would remove the soft netting when I brought these pears home. The packaging is meant for travel. When I get the pears home, they’re done traveling.