Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Using over-ripe pears

Although poorly-ripened pears are usually extremely disappointing eaten fresh (hard on the outside, brown mush on the inside), they actually cook very nicely, as long as they are not too far gone. If the centre is only slightly discoloured, just scoop out the soft bit, and will be very nice for recipes such as fruit crumbles. Even soft pears will keep some substance once cooked, rather than 'fall' to mush like a cooking apple, and the addition of a little brown sugar and a dash of Marsala will compensate for the thin flavour. Not suitable for poaching, use large, slightly under-ripe pears such as Comice or Bartlett types. Varieties with higher acidity, and a more astringent skin flavour often have the best flavour once cooked. I do grow a couple of varieties of 'culinary pear' just for the sake of having a full collection, but so far they have not yet produced fruit. My rationale is that a variety such as Catillac will keep longer than even the late desert varieties, and be ready around January.

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