After stopping to greet customers, Ed Weaver continued checking the pears on display in his farm market — straightening boxes, occasionally grabbing a ripe one.
“When I’m working around here and I see one that’s turning yellow, I have to test it out,” he said with a smile.
Weaver’s Orchard in Morgantown offers roughly 10 varieties with names like Magness, Gem, Blake’s Pride, Shenandoah, Sunrise and Seckel, which are “very, very sweet.”
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“You have to harvest them on the immature side,” explained Stuart Constable, production manager at Highland Orchards in West Chester. “If you let them turn yellow on the tree, they’ll be mush.”
He grows four types: Seckel, Anjou, Bosc and Bartlett.
“Bartlett’s my favorite for this time of the year,” Constable said. “It’s just a nice, sweet pear.”
“I’m a big fan of all pears,” agreed Stephanie Carney, line cook at Blue Pear Bistro in West Chester.
The historic property boasted the region’s first pear tree. So, of course, its signature salad features pears — paired with prosciutto, golden raisins, toasted walnuts and blue cheese.
“I think all the flavors just blend well together,” she described. “You have the saltiness from the crispy prosciutto. You have the tang from the blue cheese and the sweetness from the pears.”
Also enjoy pears in a skillet cake or savory tart.
“I find that a lot of people have never experienced a really good pear,” Weaver said. “Pears need to be watched carefully as they’re ripening. And they are really super when they’re a nice yellow color.”
Mom’s Skillet Pear CakeIngredients
¼ cup butter1 cup sugar2 eggs1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange peel1¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt1 teaspoon ginger
2 cups peeled, finely chopped Bosc pears
2 peeled, thinly sliced Bosc pears
1/3 cup chopped pecans or pistachios
InstructionsPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the inside of an 8- or 9-inch cast iron skillet. Cream butter and sugar. Beat eggs, vanilla and grated orange peel until light and fluffy. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger. Mix dry ingredients with creamed mixture. Beat till just blended. Batter will be very stiff. Add chopped pears to batter. Mix well and spoon into skillet. Spread evenly and top with sliced Bosc pears and pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.
RECIPE COURTESY OF NANCY TIRRELL AND WEAVER’S ORCHARD
Blue Pear Bistro’s Signature Pear Salad
IngredientsDressing:¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and white pepper to taste½ cup olive oil
Poached pears:3 Bosc pears1½ cups white wine
½ teaspoon vanilla¼ cup sugar¼ cup honey
1 cinnamon stick¼ sprig rosemary
5 slices prosciutto¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
¼ cup golden raisins¼ cup toasted walnuts
1 bag mixed green lettuceInstructions
Dressing: Blend vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil with blender running on low.
Poached pears: Peel pears and slice in half. Use a melon baller to remove seeds. In a saucepot, combine wine, vanilla, sugar, honey, cinnamon and rosemary. Dissolve sugar and add pears. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bake sliced prosciutto for 15 to 20 minutes in a 325- to 350-degree oven until nice and crisp.
Divide lettuce onto five plates. Top each with half a poached pear and one slice of prosciutto, crumbled. Add blue cheese, raisins and walnuts and dressing. Serves 5.
RECIPE COURTESY OF BLUE PEAR BISTRO
Savory Pear and Gruyère TartIngredients
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, cut into ¼-inch-thick half-moon slices
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Salt1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough (about 9 ounces), thawed according to package directions
All-purpose flour for rolling out the dough
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese (2½ ounces)
2 gently packed cups arugula or baby kale
2 firm Anjou pears that are just beginning to ripen (about 1 pound)
InstructionsPreheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl in the pan. Add the onion, rosemary and a generous pinch of salt. Cook the onion, stirring from time to time, until the slices are tender, brown, and caramelized, about 10 minutes. While the onion cooks, prepare the dough. Lightly flour your work surface and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to an 11-by-15-inch rectangle. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Moisten the perimeter of the dough with a little water using the tip of your finger. Fold the edge of the dough over to form a 3/4-inch wide border. Lay the cooked onion slices over the surface of the tart, within the border. Scatter the cheese over the onion and lay the arugula on top.
Cut each pear off of its core in four cuts. Lay the pear pieces flesh-side-down on a cutting board and cut into thin slices (1/16-inch). Arrange the slices in three rows down the length of the tart, overlapping about a ¼-inch. Add a small pinch of salt over the pears and put in the oven to bake. Bake the tart until the pastry is golden brown all over, 20 to 25 minutes. Peek in the oven once or twice during baking. If a section of dough puffs up notably, poke it with the tip of a knife to deflate. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes and serve. Makes 10 to 12 servings as an appetizer.
RECIPE COURTESY OF USAPEARS.ORG AND KATIE MORFORD