Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Record-sized crop of pears celebrated during National Pear Month

A trip to the market this holiday season promises fresh, Northwest-grown pears aplenty. December has been proclaimed "National Pear Month" by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the winter months boast the broadest selection of pear varieties being in season. Adding to the prevalence of fresh pears this year are a bumper crop and a bevy of new holiday cookbooks and recipes paying homage to the pear.

The Pacific Northwest, home to the growers of 84 percent of the nation's fresh pears, produced one of the largest crops on record this season, says Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO, Pear Bureau Northwest. "Ideal weather conditions, including just the right amount of rainfall, warm summer days and cool nights in Oregon and Washington's pear growing regions, led to a record sized crop of excellent quality," he notes. Branded USA Pears, the ten primary Northwest-grown pear varieties are Red and Green Anjou, Bartlett and Red Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Forelle, Seckel, Starkrimson and Concorde.

Moffitt adds that December is an ideal time to experiment with new pear varieties. "Several new pear-centric cookbooks and recipes will help home cooks get creative with the bounty on the plate or on the table as decoration."

According to Diane Morgan, author of two new cookbooks, The Christmas Table and The New Thanksgiving Table (both from Chronicle Books), pears are enjoying a surge in popularity. "This traditional fruit is coming into its own as cooks recognize their many uses, flavor profiles and aesthetic differences."

Morgan included pear recipes in her most recent holiday-themed cookbooks, including a recipe for Individual Anjou Pear Tarts with Caramel Ice Cream in The Christmas Table, by Chronicle Books.

"With The Christmas Table, I strived to offer helpful ideas and recipes to plan holiday feasts and create treasured holiday traditions. Fresh pears are a given when planning my holiday table – not only for their delicate flavors, but also for their beautiful red, green and golden hues."

Home cooks also can look to leading restaurants for inspiration, as innovative pear recipes abound on fine dining menus nationwide. Acclaimed pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami was recently honored by Pear Bureau Northwest for her original Pear and Cardamom Granita with Pistachio Biscotti. Goldsmith, known for her unabashed creativity and knack for balancing flavors, says she frequently turns to pears when preparing holiday desserts.

"Pears lend elegance and lusciousness to any holiday dish," she offers. "They're incredibly versatile and I love working with them."

Offering further resources for pear lovers, Pear Bureau Northwest recently launched a redesign of the world's largest website dedicated to pears: www.USApears.org. In addition to pear recipes, visitors can browse varietal information, pear ripening tips, and watch videos featuring the pear growers from Oregon and Washington. For more pear recipes from top chefs like Goldsmith, visit www.PearPanache.com.

About Pear Bureau Northwest/USA Pears
Pear Bureau Northwest is the non-profit marketing organization established in 1931 to promote the fresh USA Pears grown in Washington and Oregon. The Bureau represents more than 1,600 growers who produce 84 percent of the nation's fresh pear crop, and develops national and international markets for Northwest pear distribution.

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