Why is a pear tree such a great gift? Well, first of all the pear is, once again, another member of the very productive and edible Rose family and is the genus Pyrus. It was used by cave people for food and is, along with the apple, a cold weather and cool climate superstar of survival. The many species originated in the Eurasian area around the Caspian Sea. Ancient Romans liked their pears poached in honey.
This is a sweet treat indeed as a pear has 17 grams of fructose per pear. With this much natural sugar they ferment well and make a good party drink including pear cider or perry. They can be dried, jellied, canned, juiced and eaten right off the tree. There are 3000 species of pear in the world and they are highly prized as gourmet eating. Pears are known to grow wild in Eurasian woods and pear wood is useful as a fine hard wood for kitchen utensils and furniture. They are an ideal addition to the permaculture food forest and can be grafted onto quince trees, a similar species, and rootstocks.
Pears have abundant fiber and consuming the skin of a pear is where most of the phyto-nutrients are found. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods: “In recent studies measuring risk of type 2 diabetes in U.S. women, pears have earned very special recognition. Researchers now know that certain flavonoids in food can improve insulin sensitivity, and of special interest in this area have been three groups of flavonoids (flavonols, flavan-3-ols, and anthocyanins). All pears contain flavonoids falling within the first two groups, and red-skinned pears contain anthocyanins as well. Intake of these flavonoid groups has been associated with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes in both women and men. However, a new analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study has shown that among all fruits and vegetables analyzed for their flavonoid content, the combination of apples/pears showed the most consistent ability to lower risk of type 2 diabetes.”
1-2 washed organic pears cored with the skin on, chopped; toss with mixed greens and ½ cup chopped walnuts chopped leeks. Garnish with a honey mustard dressing with crumbled goat cheese as an option.
Caron Wenzel is an Environmental Educator, writer, and is the owner of Blazing Star Inc. a 2 year old native plant seed nursery and environmental consulting business. Visit her website at BlazingStar.com.