Apple pears, also known as Asian pears, are the light-yellow or tan colored apple shaped fruit we saw in our baskets last week. Do you have any left? I know that in my house they disappear within minutes of hitting the kitchen, because there are few more refreshingly flavored fruits around. Crisp like an apple, these fruit keep well for ten to fourteen days in your refrigerator. They are picked when they are ripe on the tree and are ready for eating immediately unlike the European pears we are used to seeing. If you let them sit until they are soft, they will have a winey, fermented unpleasant flavor. Eat them when they are still crisp, and have that fresh, fruity fragrance.
Some people mistake them for a hybrid of apple and pear, but it’s not so. These fruit are not genetically modified. Apple pears are an old pear variety brought from China to the West coast during the Gold Rush days and have been cultivated in Asia for 3000 years. In Chinese medicine, apple pears are considered a cooling fruit and used for detoxification, coughs, laryngitis, ulcers and constipation. The ancient Chinese believed that dividing a pear between two people would cause them to separate, because the word ‘fen li’ or sharing a pear is pronounced the same way as separation. I can’t think of a better reason to eat a whole sweet apple pear all by yourself!
Apple pears are great in kid’s lunches! Unlike other pears, apple pears don’t go immediately brown when cut. It makes them a perfect addition to your child’s lunch. Cut them up and watch them disappear! Apple pears have a sweet crunch that’s a great side to sandwiches. Use them like you would fresh apple slices. They’re great in green salads and pair well with nuts and mild cheeses.
Enjoy your apple pears, the first fruits of the Fall season. Their sweet, crunchy flavor and mild taste is sure to become a favorite of your family. They are, as Alton Brown would say, “Good Eats!”