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What are Some Foods I can Make with Pears?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pears are flavorful, crisp fruit with a distinctly granular texture. Many people eat them fresh out of hand, but there are an assortment of other foods which can be made with this fruit. If you are suffering from an excess of pears, you may want to skip ahead to the end of this article, which discusses pear preserves and other methods for dealing with large numbers.

Before delving into the uses of pears, it can help to know how to handle the fruit. When selecting them in the market, look for firm, evenly colored specimens. Since they ripen off the tree, perfect ripeness is not necessary, although it certainly doesn't hurt. Store the fruits in a brown paper bag on the counter until they ripen, after which point they should be used or refrigerated. Pears can range in flavor and sweetness depending on variety and when they are harvested; you may want to experiment with several versions.

Many people use pears just like apples, and any recipe which calls for apples can be made with the other fruit instead, from apple pie to applesauce. The flavor and texture will be radically different, but this can be quite enjoyable, especially at a dinner party when you want to introduce guests to some fun and different foods. Pears can be eaten fresh, or chopped up in salads to add a sweet textural element. They can also be offered along with a cheese course, either to replace or supplement other fruits.

When grilled, pears hold their shape and develop a rich sweetness. They can be grilled as a dessert item, or to accompany savory meals; try wrapping them in bacon or prosciutto and then grilling them for an Italian twist. You can also poach pears in wine or other liquids for desserts; cooked like this, they pair very well with vanilla cakes, ice cream, and whipped cream.

Baked pears can be prepared in a number of ways. They can be baked in pies and other fruit desserts such as cobbler, for example. They can also be baked along side roast meats, or baked to make a rich, caramelized soft mass which can be pureed for pear preserves. This puree can also be frozen for use in future dishes.

Pear sorbet is another option. It can be made by coring the fruit and pureeing it, before adding sugar and running the puree through an ice cream machine. Pear puree can also be added to a custard base for ice cream, or mixed with cream to make a gelato which will have a rich, creamy mouthfeel.

Preserves made from this fruit can come in a number of forms. Pears can be treated just like apples in applesauce and apple butter, or they can be used to make savory preserves such as chutney. Try experimenting with different spices to bring out the pear flavor, and remember that the pear texture will carry through even after cooking, with small granular bursts of flavor. You can also dry them by slicing them thinly and laying them out on large racks or running them through a dehydrator or low temperature oven.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By bear78 — On Jan 20, 2013

@Ivan83-- It kind of depends. What dessert did you have in mind?

If you're making something like pear sorbet or ice cream, you want pears that will literally melt. Bartlett pears are good for that. If you want to make something like cake where the pears need to stay together, then Anjou pears or Forelle pears are good choices.

Have you ever tried making upside down cake with pears? It's so good, you have to try it! Just replace the pineapples in pineapple upside down cake with pears.

By fify — On Jan 19, 2013

@MikeMason-- Yea, pear chutney is similar to mango chutney. There are different varieties of it but the one I make is a sweeter version with sugar, raisins, cloves and cinnamon. It also calls for onions and hot peppers. It's very easy, just boil and then simmer for at least two hours and jar it. But don't make too much at a time because it should be consumed in several weeks. This is not something that will last indefinitely.

I highly recommend having pear chutney with turkey and chicken. I even replaced cranberry sauce with this pear chutney one year on Thanksgiving and everyone loved it. It's also a great condiment for meatloaf, hamburgers and rice. If you're into Indian cuisine, you can also pair this chutney with almost every Indian dish.

By stoneMason — On Jan 19, 2013

Thanks for some of these tips. I will definitely try some of them. But can I have a more detailed description of pear chutney? Will it be made like mango chutney?

I buy organic pears often because I'm diabetic and this is one of the fruits that's suitable for diabetes patients because it has a low glycemic index.

By Ivan83 — On Oct 18, 2012

What are the best kind of pears for cooking with, specifically for making desserts with?

By summing — On Oct 17, 2012

My wife makes a delicious pear reduction that she serves on top of roasted chicken. It is not too sweet, but it retains the unique flavor of the pear which compliments the mild meat perfectly.

Plus, a fruit reduction is a nice alternative to what many people do to spice up chicken. They cover it in wing sauce or bacon or cheese. How gross.

By gravois — On Oct 17, 2012
You can actually make the best apple pie you have ever had by simply substituting pears for some of the apples. Do everything else the same, just switch the fruit. You will not believe how much deeper and tastier the flavor is this way.
By hyrax53 — On Nov 14, 2010

Like apples, pears' calories per gram are very low, and they also have fiber. These two attributes make pears great snacks for someone trying to cut calories and/or increase produce intake.

By watson42 — On Nov 14, 2010

I love to bake pears in crumbles with blueberries, apples, or peaches. Pears go well with all of these fruits, and they taste good topped with ice cream or whipped cream, or even without.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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