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December has been appropriately designated “National Pear Month” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as the winter offers the widest selection of in-season pear varieties. This year, grocers can take advantage of an abundant crop and a slew of new holiday cookbooks and recipes featuring the popular fruit.
“Ideal weather conditions, including just the right amount of rainfall, warm summer days and cool nights in Oregon and Washington’s pear growing regions, led to a record sized crop of excellent quality,” noted Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of Portland, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest, a nonprofit marketing organization representing over 1,600 growers that produce 84 percent of the nation’s fresh pear crop. Branded USA Pears, the 10 main Northwest-grown pear varieties are Red and Green Anjou, Bartlett and Red Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Forelle, Seckel, Starkrimson and Concorde.
According to Moffitt, December is a great time to try out new pear varieties. “Several new pear-centric cookbooks and recipes will help home cooks get creative with the bounty on the plate or on the table as decoration,” he said. These cookbooks include “The Christmas Table” and “The New Thanksgiving Table” (both from Chronicle Books) by Diane Morgan. Also instructive are recipes from such celebrated restaurant chefs as Hedy Goldsmith of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami. Grocers can benefit by featuring such recipes in their pear promotions.
To help spread the word about the fruit’s versatility, the Pear Bureau Northwest has debuted a redesign of the world’s largest Web site dedicated to pears, www.USApears.org. As well as pear recipes, visitors can get varietal information, learn pear-ripening tips, and watch videos featuring Washington and Oregon pear growers from Oregon and Washington. For pear recipes from top chefs like Goldsmith, visitors can go to www.PearPanache.com.