Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to core a pear

Pears are a relatively neglected fruit in baking.  Although they can be used the same as apples, they are often bypassed for an apple instead.  Proof is in the recipes you can find.  There is a countless, or some would even say endless, supply of recipes for apple cobblers, apple pies, apple turnovers, and apple cakes, but what is available for pears?  In comparison very little.  Pear season technically begins late summer in the Pacific Northwest, however I think of the pear as a winter fruit even more so than a fall fruit.

Some advance planning is necessary when using pears since it is best to purchase pears when they are still hard.  Unlike most fruit, pears are picked unripe and then left to ripen off of the tree.  Pears ripen over time at room temperature.  Refrigeration will slow the ripening process so it is best to place them in a fruit bowl or on your kitchen counter and then allow several days for the fruit to ripen.  The fruit is ripe when it gives slightly with the pressure of your thumb.  When baking with pears, it is necessary to remove the inner core.

1.  Place the pear upright on your cutting board and cut the pear from end to end.   Rather than cut right through the stem, I prefer to cut right next to the stem leaving only one pear half that needs the stem and blossom removed.

2.  Remove the seed core with either the tip of a paring knife or a melon baller.  I recommend a melon baller if you own one.  Depending on the size of the pear and its core, the melon baller can generally remove the entire seed core in one pass leaving a nice clean center that would make Martha proud.

3.  Remove the blossom end by making a small v-shape cut around its edges.  I am using my favorite knife that is waaay too big.  A small paring knife should do the job just fine.

4. Remove the thin fibrous core that runs from the stem through the length of the pear.  A thin v-shaped cut should do the trick.


5.  And your core is removed.  From here, a vegetable peeler will remove the skin with ease.  A paring knife or your favorite enormous knife will also do the job, it will just take more of the flesh away if you are not a professional.

You are ready to take it from here with your recipe.  Go ahead and buy some Bosc pears (Concorde, Forelle, or Bartlett are also good baking/cooking pears).  I have several good pear recipes that will follow later this week.

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