Canada’s Favourite Pear, the Bartlett, is Back!
Summer brings with it so many good things. But from St. John’s to Victoria, it goes by so fast that we must take advantage—while we can—of all the best of this short season. And one of those ‘just for summer’ treats is the California Bartlett. As welcome and fleeting as summertime, this variety is Canada’s favourite.
Soft and juicy, succulent and aromatic, these pears—due to the warm growing region—have very high natural sugar levels, making them the sweetest, juiciest pears around! And there are many ways to indulge yourself: serve Bartlett pears with cheese such as brie, camembert or gorgonzola for a healthy dessert; try them in fruit salads or slice into lettuce salads with crumbled blue cheese; or just eat them out-of-hand as a healthy, anytime snack. Bartletts are also ‘pear-fect’ for canning, so you can enjoy some California sunshine in January.
Bartlett pears are bell-shaped with a light green skin that turns yellow when ripe. Look for firm, well shaped fruit. Good quality pears are smooth-skinned and un-shriveled. Minor blemishes don’t affect the flavour or quality of the pear.
But ripening is a topic that confuses some shoppers. The good news is that once you know how to ripen a Bartlett, and how ripe—or soft—you prefer them, you can always enjoy your perfect pear. The greener the pear, the harder and less ripe it is. Conversely, yellow Bartlett pears are softer and fully ripe. Bartlett pears don’t ripen on the tree. Instead, they are picked and shipped while still green and ripen in the store or on your counter. If your preference is a harder pear, enjoy it when it’s still green, but if you like a softer pear, just let it ripen to yellow on your counter.
One medium, 160 g pear contains only 100 calories and is a source of vitamin C, potassium and folic acid, contains natural antioxidants, and is a good source of fibre. Pears have also been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine because they are a cooling, soothing food that boosts the immune system. Many dietitians classify pears as hypo-allergenic, and they’re also a great food for anyone who is having difficulty chewing but needs to eat healthfully.
California Bartletts are grown by artisan farmers on 60 small family farms. Many of these Central Valley farms are in their fourth and fifth generations, and some farms can even trace their history back to the 1849 California gold rush.
If you’re rushing to the store to buy golden California Bartletts, you’ll have an easy search. They’re available in all major grocery stores across Canada.
Curried California Pear, Pistachio and Grilled Chicken Salad
Preparation time: 20 Minutes
- 125 mL (½ cup) olive oil
- 50 mL (¼ cup) white wine vinegar
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) sugar
- 7.5 mL (½ tbsp) soy sauce
- 7 mL (1 ½ tsp) curry powder
- 5 mL (1 tsp) dry mustard
- 1 mL (¼ tsp) pepper
- 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced
- 1.5 L (6 cups) mixed, washed and tom salad greens or spinach
- 3 large ripe Bartlett Pears, cored and sliced
- 125 mL (½ cup) golden raisins
- 125 mL (½ cup) shelled pistachio nuts
- 125 mL (½ cup) diced red bell pepper
- ½ small red onion, sliced
- 4 small (125 g) (4-oz) boneless, skinless grilled chicken breast fillets, chilled
Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. To assemble salad, toss half of the dressing with the salad greens.
Divide evenly among 4 salad plates or bowls. Top with pears, raisins, nuts, bell pepper and onion. Slice each chicken breast into strips and layover salad. Drizzle with remaining dressing.