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Deliciously ripened pears can be used to great effect in bread, salsa, pies, and chips--like those pictured above.
PHOTOS BY DEBBIE NODA/MODESTO BEE
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By Sharon K. Ghag
The Modesto Bee
Pears are one of the signature fruits of autumn, and a nice change of pace from summer's delicate fruits and berries.
Though there are thousands of varieties, Bartletts are the best known. They're recognized by their shapely bottoms and long necks. They arrive rock-hard at the grocery store. Most pears ripen off the tree, and Bartletts are no exception.
They're picked in August and September when mature, but still firm and available through December-January, according to the USA Pears website: usapears.com.
Given time, Bartletts turn from green to yellow and their flesh from crunchy and tart to creamy and super sweet and juicy--perfect for eating out of hand.
If the neck near the stem yields when pressed, it means the pear is on its way to ripening.
Firm, ripe pears are what's needed for these recipes. Softer pears will turn mealy as they cook.
Pears can be used in place of apples in any recipe. The advantage of using pears is that they let other flavors shine. That means you can really taste the touch of cardamom and apricot jam in the pie.
Pears also have more fiber than apples: 5 grams to an apple's 3 grams. A medium-size pear, though, has more calories: 98 calories versus an apple's 81.
PEPPERY PEAR SALSA
Makes 6 (8-ounce) jars
1 cup white vinegar
Makes 1 servings
4 tablespoons apricot