Oregon Pears

Pears are Oregon’s official State Fruit, and Oregon ranks second in the nation in pear production. 84% of the US fresh pear crop comes from the Pacific Northwest due to the region’s unique climate. Volcanic soil, abundant water, warm days and cool nights combine to create the perfect conditions for growing the varieties of pears found in Oregon, whose principal growing regions are in Hood River Valley in north central Oregon and Rogue River Valley in southeastern Oregon.

Oregon’s warm August days help the pears grow plump and juicy, and when the full August moon fills the clear summer skies, it usually means that pear harvest has begun in the orchards. Pears are a unique fruit in that they do not ripen well on the tree. Pears are harvested as mature fruit, but ripened off the tree. If the fruit you buy in the store is not ripe, the ripening process is simple, and requires only a few days at room temperature—either in a paper bag, or in a bowl on the counter. Once ripe, pears can be refrigerated so that they will stay firm and ready-to-eat.

How do you know when the time is right to eat? Many varieties of pears do not change color as they ripen. To judge ripeness, simply “check the neck.” Apply gentle pressure on the neck of the pear at the stem end with your thumb. If it yields slightly, the pear is ripe and ready to eat. Because pears ripen from the inside out, pressing near the stem is the best way to test for maximum juice and sugar. If you wait until the pear is soft around the middle, it may be overripe inside. So, remember to “check the neck” for ripeness!

Each variety of pear grown in Oregon has its own flavor and texture, so be sure to try them all: Green and Red Anjou, Green and Red Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Forelle, Seckel, and Starkrimson provide versatile options for snacking, baking, poaching, salads, and more. Plus, pears pack a powerful punch of nutrition: one medium sized pear provides 24% of the recommended daily allowance of fiber, 10% of your day’s vitamin C, and 6% of your day’s potassium, all for only 100 calories.

Other Resources
Northwest Pear Bureau - www.usapears.com

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