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Roasted, poached or fresh-picked, pears offer plenty of possibilities

Sherrel Jones shares her love of pears.
BY SHERREL JONES Modified: October 9, 2012 at 12:12 am •  Published: October 10, 2012

The pears have arrived, and there are many possibilities for pairing them with foods that bring out their best. Or you can simply crunch into a ripe Bosc or Asian pear to savor the honey-sweet juicy crispness. Slicing a big green Bartlett to enjoy with a bit of Stilton cheese and a few golden walnuts is always a treat. I can't possibly rave enough about all the pear pastry possibilities.

When I was a child, the biggest pear tree I've ever known stood just outside my grandmother's kitchen in Ada. It supplied hours of fun building tree houses and showing off our tree limb acrobatics. During pear season, the abundance supplied neighbors and filled the pantry with canned pears, preserves and golden pear honey.

As the pears ripened, sweet pear aroma rode in on the gentle breeze coming in grandmother Beulah's back door. That scent lingers in my mind even now. It was best to get the pears before they fell to the ground, but in our family's waste-not-want-not culture, the fallen ones had to be picked up before they bruised and rotted or attracted critters.

Pears also offer plenty of nutritional value to recommend them for including in your diet. One large Bartlett pear contains about 7 grams of fiber at only about 133 calories. A medium one will have a little less with about 100 calories.

My favorite pear dish now is probably roasted pears in cream. There's nothing to it, really, as your oven does all the work. There are only four ingredients: pears, butter, sugar and cream or half-and-half. You must try roasting pears this way. The amazing caramelization is infused into the cream or half-and-half to make a rich golden elixir that would charm any husband into submission — maybe even a would-be husband into a proposal.

Before I learned about roasting pears this way, I poached them until soft in white wine then drizzled on the raspberry or chocolate sauce. The poaching was great, but I hated to use the amount of wine it took to cover the pears for this technique. Poaching does have less fat and less sugar, for pear lovers who need or want that alternative.

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