Road Foodie: Welcome to Pearadise

At least 10 different varieties of pears grow in North America.

 

There are times of the year when berries, cherries, peaches and other fresh fruits are readily available. April isn’t necessarily one of those months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy fabulous fruit desserts. That’s where dried fruits come in, and dried pears are one of the tastiest.

During the fall months when pears are at their best, we often travel to Hood River, Oregon, to purchase fresh pears direct from the growers. If you have access to a pear-growing region, you’ll encounter many different varieties — like Seckel, Forelle and Concorde — that you don’t often see. In grocery stores, you’ll see four main varieties: Bartlett, a green-gold pear that’s good canned, pureed or baked; Anjou (Green or Red), a squat little pear with a smooth, juicy texture that’s perfect for eating fresh; Bosc, a firm-fleshed pear that’s great for poaching and baking; and Comice, an earthy, mellow pear that’s right for desserts and the perfect sweet pear for drying.

You can dry pears yourself (or buy them) for a terrific road snack.
You can dry pears yourself (or buy them) for a terrific road snack.

Pears are super-healthful. They’re a good source of dietary fiber and are packed with vitamin C, which is essential for proper immune function and for preventing infections. Vitamin C also prevents cell damage and helps in tissue repair.

While fresh pears are delicious, they don’t last long. By the time pears feel or look “ripe,” they’re often brown and mushy inside. Drying them in a food dehydrator or oven is a great way to preserve them, and dried pear slices make a perfect snack when you’re on the road.

To dry: Wash and peel pears and slice ¼- to ½-inch thick. Dip in a bath of lemon water. Arrange on dehydrator tray (or cookie sheet) and dry at 160 degrees for about 5 hours. The pears will still be slightly flexible, but not juicy, when ready. You can also buy dried pears at many food stores.

Have a favorite fruit dessert you’d like to share?
Email Bobbie with “Pears” in the subject line.

 

Pearadise Pecan Squares

 

This recipe, from Mt. View Orchards in Hood River, is sweet, crunchy and buttery. Essentially, it’s a rich shortbread topped with pears, pecans and caramel. What’s better than that?

These squares keep for several days — if they don’t get gobbled up — and they travel well. This recipe will definitely become a family favorite.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Crust

  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 cups white flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Filling

  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup chopped, dried pears
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Mix crust ingredients together and press into a 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and prepare filling.

Combine butter, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup and salt in large saucepan. Boil until the mixture reaches soft-ball stage (240 F). Remove from heat and stir in nuts, pears and vanilla.

Spread the mixture evenly over the crust and bake for 10 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.


 

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