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Live Well. Eat Well.

Pretty (Tasty) Pears

Tis the season for pears. This versatile fruit is a great one for your winter plates.


Pears are a classic fruit in terms of nutrition. A medium fresh pear has around 100 calories, 27g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, and is a source of vitamins and minerals including folate, other B vitamins, and potassium. Pears are not a significant source of fat, protein, or sodium. Pears canned in juice or syrups and dried pears will be higher in calories and carbohydrates, so read food labels to know what you are getting.

  • Buy: Look for mature but firm pears without cuts, bruises, or other blemishes. (See the TRIVIA HIGHLIGHT below for why pears are picked and sold unripe.) If buying canned, look for those canned in water or juice rather than syrup. If buying dried pears, look for those without added sugar.
  • Price: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fresh or canned pears are priced around $1.00 per pound on average, making them very affordable.
  • Store: Fresh unripe pears should be stored at room temperature for several days until ripened. Placing in a paper bag can help speed ripening. Once ripe, pears can be refrigerated for longer storage.
  • Prepare: Wash fresh pears before eating or using in recipes. Cut away insect damage or bruising. Cut pears, like apples, will begin to turn brown when exposed to air due to enzymatic oxidation. To limit browning, treat pears by dipping in lemon juice, storing in water until ready to use, or packing in a vitamin C solution or sugar syrup.
  • Eat: Pears are versatile to eat on their own or added to recipes. Eat as a snack or a daily fruit serving, use in baked goods and other dessert recipes, and try in savory recipes such as tarts, soups, and salads.

Reference: US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Fruit desserts are great around the holidays to get something sweet while also adding vitamins and minerals to your meal.

Pear and Cherry Crisp (serves 9)

This tasty dish comes from UI Extension's "Meals for a Healthy Heart" series. Find a class in your local area.

Fruit Filling
Non-stick cooking spray
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
5 fresh pears
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup pear or apple juice
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 Tablespoon flour

1 cup low-fat granola
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 cup trans-fat free margarine spread

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly spray a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
2. Add lemon juice to a large bowl. Fill bowl halfway with cold water.
3. Peel, core, and cut pears into 1 inch-thick lengthwise slices. Add slices to lemon water. When finished slicing, drain the cut pears and return them to the bowl.
4. To pears, add the cherries, lemon zest, pear or apple juice, honey, extracts, spices, and 1 tablespoon of flour. Mix to combine.
5. In a separate bowl, make the topping. Place the granola, flour, brown sugar, almonds, and spices in a large mixing bowl and toss lightly. Add the margarine and mix until blended but crumbly.
6. Spread pear mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle topping over pears.
7. Place baking dish on the foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the juices are bubbling and clear. Serve warm. Nutritional analysis per serving: 260 calories, 6g fat, 80mg sodium, 55g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 3g protein

WEB HIGHLIGHT: Want to know more about varieties of pears? Check out this reference from the Pear Bureau Northwest.

WEB HIGHLIGHT 2: If you are interested in growing pear trees, read more from the personal experiences of fellow Educator Jennifer Nelson about Asian pears.

TRIVIA HIGHLIGHT: Pears are picked from their trees matured, but not ripe. Ripening pears on the trees makes the pears more likely to rot from the inside out rather than turn into the soft and sweet flesh we like.

Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Parts of this post were previously included in Healthy Eats and Repeat. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.