“Being a good neighbor is an art which makes life richer.”–Gladys Taber
“Pears cannot ripen alone. So we ripen together.”–Meridel Le Sueur
I found them sitting on the kitchen counter. Brown with a rough texture and a bit of an uneven texture, these late season pears were a gift from our neighbor, Sandra, who had told me in a text, “They are good for the body.” While they weren’t much to look at, I wasn’t about to judge the fruit by its skin. I gently arranged them on a plate in order to allow them to ripen up a bit. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with them, but I felt certain they had great potential stored within–despite the fact, I honestly don’t often eat pears.
I began scouring through recipes on-line in search of ideas. I had no idea the versatility of pears! For years, I have eaten and cooked with apples in a wide variety of ways, but it turns out, pears can be used in nearly every way an apple can and more! From poached pears to pear pie, from pear butters and sauces to pear pizzas and pear tarts, and from pear salad to pickled pears, and so much more, it turns out the pear, and all its varieties, is quite the versatile fruit. Plus, it turns out that Sandra was spot; pears are good for the body!
Of course, consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is an overall beneficial habit to one’s health and can help reduce one’s risk for a number of diseases. The pear is no exception. To begin, it is full of fiber. In fact, the average pear typically has a whopping six grams of fiber wrapped up in one deliciously sweet package that comes in around 100 calories and is naturally fat-free and cholesterol free.
In particular, the pear possesses pectin, a soluble fiber that is good for promoting gut health because it feeds the gut’s bacteria. What’s more, pears have a high water content. Combine the pectin with high water and pears possess the ability to promote soft stools, increasing healthy bowel function as well as naturally flushing toxins out of the system. This same fiber is also good for naturally reducing cholesterol, reducing one’s risk for diabetes as well as reducing one’s risk for diverticulitis.
Pears are full of antioxidants which combat cancer causing free radicals. This includes vitamins C and K as well as copper. Pears are also a good source of potassium and possess smaller amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, and vitamin B-6. Finally, pears, especially those with red skin, contain carotenoids, flavonoids, and anthocyanins which promote heart health.
Overall, pears are an underappreciated (at least they were in my world) nutritional powerhouse that are chock full of fiber, vitamins, and beneficial plant compounds. Thanks to Sandra, I have since purchased pears by the ½ dozen or so, repeatedly. I’ve learned, due to her generosity, that it is all about allowing pears to ripen together on a plate before storing them in the refrigerator.
We like our pear butter chunky, so I use a potato masher to break down the pears. However, you can choose to use a blender or food processor for a smoother consistency.
Finally, the one important piece of nutritional information I did learn while researching for this recipe is that many of these nutrients are stored in the fruit’s peel, so be sure to eat it to maximize the nutritional benefits. Sadly, the recipe I am sharing with you today does not include the peel. Therefore, while your buying pears to make this recipe, be sure to pick up a few extra for a healthy grab and go snack sure to benefit your body’s health.
Pear butter is delicious served up on whole grain (gluten-free here) bread or spread across a flatbread or tortilla.
From my home to yours, I wish you healthy, homemade, and well, humble, but certainly tasty, food choices!
6 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
Combine chopped pears, lemon juice, maple syrup, and brown sugar.
Cover and cook over medium heat 20-25 minutes until pears are soft, stirring often to prevent sticking.
Using a potato masher, gently mash pears while still in pot to desired texture. (My family and I like our pear butter with a few small chunks remaining. You can always use a food processor if you desire a smoother consistency–just remember to cool the pears first. Then, return back to pot for final cooking.)
Stir in remaining ingredients and continue simmering over medium to medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes without a lid, allowing pear butter to thicken. Remember to occasionally stir to prevent sticking.
Cool and pour into container for storage.
Can be stored in the fridge for 7-10 days or in the freezer for up to a month.
Makes a delicious dessert by itself, and it also tastes terrific spread over toast or flatbread/tortilla.
I especially like it served in a small dish topped with a granola-like topping while my husband likes it warmed in a bowl served with whipped cream.