Bartlett, Danjou, Bosc. Pears carry such elegant names and no wonder—they are an elegant, fragrant, succulent fruit. December is peak of pear season and perfect for a cold weather dessert or combining flavor to a holiday cheese plate.
When selecting pears, seek ones that are firm. As with all fruit, examine the skin for bruising. Orchardists allow pears to reach optimum sugar level, yet pick them while they are still green and firm. A tree-ripened pear is mushy to the point of disintegration. Pears can be ripened at room temperature and then stored in the refrigerator.
If you are preparing a plate of cheese, pears can add color and sweetness to your array. Serve with Brie, aged cheddar, Swiss or Gruyère. Add almonds and a sprinkle of dried cranberries for another layer of texture and color. If you are looking for a simple, yet stylish dessert for the holidays, try the Poached Pears recipe.
This particular recipe packs an aroma wallop combining aromatic pears with vanilla bean. Vanilla beans from Madagascar are for sale in bulk in the wellness department. Each bean costs about $2.00. Extract the tiny seeds (which look more like coffee-colored silky goo than seeds) by cutting off an inch or two of the bean, splitting it in half and scraping the silk with a knife. The hulled beans can be placed in your sugar jar for adding a sultry vanilla scent to your sugar.