The harvest season is upon us. In fact, it is winding down. You may have already picked pears, still green but ready to ripen. As they gradually turn yellow, they become sweet and delicious.
Most people either eat them plain or can them for later use. They make delicious jams and jellies, although these are less commonly used than other fruits.
Pears are low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and are a good source of vitamin C (10 percent of the recommended daily allowance). Pears are also a good source of dietary fiber.
Before or after they are canned, they make a very quick, tasty and attractive salad. Place a half pear on a piece of lettuce on a plate, top with a dollop of cottage cheese and garnish with finely grated cheddar cheese or paprika.
Pear Belle Hèléne
(Makes one serving)
1 fresh (or canned) pear half
3 small scoops vanilla ice cream
2 tablespoons hot fudge sauce
Place pear half in small shallow dessert dish, cut side up. Fill it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and place other two scoops on each side of the pear. Top with hot fudge sauce and serve immediately.
Hot fudge sauce
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1 cup evaporated milk
Melt butter in saucepan. Add sugar and cocoa and mix well. Add milk gradually, beating until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes or until thick. Serve hot on Pear Belle Hèléne, ice cream or other dessert. Store in refrigerator and reheat before serving. Makes 2 cups sauce. (For a thinner sauce add 2 tablespoons hot water.)
Pear pecan muffins
(Makes 12 muffins)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup low-fat milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pear, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Combine milk, egg and oil.
Add to flour mixture with pear and pecans. Mix just until moistened. Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.
Gingerbread pear cobbler
(Makes about 6 servings)
1 can (16 ounce) sliced pears drained; reserve syrup (or use 2 cups sliced fresh pears)
1/2 cup raisins and/or 1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 package (14 ounce) gingerbread mix
Arrange sliced pears on bottom of 8- or 9-inch square baking dish lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray. Top with raisins and/or nuts. Prepare gingerbread according to package directions. (If using canned pears, use syrup as part of water.)
Pour batter over pears. Bake according to gingerbread directions. Time may need to be increased. Cook until gingerbread is done.
Microwave cooking: Line bottom of round 8- or 9-inch pan with waxed paper. Arrange pears, raisins, nuts and gingerbread as above. Heat 11 1/2 to 13 minutes on medium heat or until gingerbread is done. Cover and serve warm.
Pears with caramel sauce
(Makes 6 servings)
6 large pears
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
30 caramels (about 10 ounces)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sweetened whipped cream or whipped topping
Core pears and peel skin 1/2 inch from top
Combine sugar and dash cinnamon and sprinkle inside pears.
In oblong baking dish, arrange pears. Sprinkle with water. Heat, covered on high 8 to 9 minutes or until pears are tender. Cool or chill. Just before serving, combine caramels, butter, rum flavoring, water and cinnamon in glass bowl and heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring twice. (Heat and stir until smooth).
Spoon sauce over pears. Top with sweetened whipped cream.
(Makes 8 servings)
1 cup water
6 whole cloves
1 large cinnamon stick
8 pears, peeled, halved and cored
1 package (3 ounce) strawberry gelatin
1 package apple flavored gelatin
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup orange juice
Combine 1 cup of water and the spices in a skillet. Add pears, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Dissolve the two flavors of gelatin in hot water. Add orange juice. Pour gelatin mixture over pears.
Broil until glazed, basting often, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve as a meat accompaniment or as a dessert with plain or whipped cream.
Spiced pear mold
(Makes 4 servings)
2 envelopes cherry flavored gelatin
2 cups hot water
Combine gelatin, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Add hot water and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Chill until slightly thickened. Fold in slice pears. Pour into molds or sherbet glasses and chill until firm. Serve plain or garnish with whipped cream or whipped dessert topping.