The Packham Pear is similar to a William Bartlett Pear, and is the most popularly produced variety in Australia. They’re available almost year-round, with a dip in availability at late summer/early autumn. They’re sweet, rich and juicy, perfect for snacking slathered with nut butter, adding to fruit salads and yoghurt bowls, or cooking into delicious dessert pies. They’re also super tasty in savoury applications – try adding them to cheese platters and salads!
Pears are rich in fibre, containing both soluble and insoluble fibre, helping to keep you feeling fuller for longer, and support a healthy digestive system. They are also low GI, making them a great snack for blood sugar regulation when paired with a source of fat and protein like nuts.
Pears ripen from the inside out – the bright green skin of a Packham Pear may fade to a lighter green or slight yellow when ripe, however the best way to check if a Packham Pear is ripe is to press the flesh gently near the stem. If the flesh gives a little, the pear is ripe and ready to enjoy. If you like a sweet, crunchy pear, it can be eaten straight away. If you prefer a softer pear, leave it for another day or two to soften.
To speed up the ripening process, you can try a couple of tricks:
- Place pears in a paper bag and keep at room temperature. This traps the ethylene gas that the pears emit, resulting in them ripening faster. To really speed up the process, add a banana into the paper bag with the pears.
- Keep them in the fruit bowl with bananas or apples, which also give off ethylene gas that encourages ripening.
The opposite also applies – avoid keeping ripe pears alongside bananas and apples, or they will over-ripen and become mealy. Once pears are ripe, they will stay fresher and last longer when stored in the fridge. Refrigeration helps delay the ripening process. Avoid stacking ripe pears to prevent bruising.
Don’t throw away over-ripe pears – use them to make jams, or stew with cinnamon for a lovely accompaniment to yoghurts and porridge.