Now in season, the pear

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Sep 11, 2013 - 12:34 PM

Photo: One small branch of the pear tree growing at the home of Jim and Amanda Taylor on the East River in Mathews is loaded with fruit. Across this part of Virginia, pears will soon be ripe and ready to use. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

One small branch of the pear tree growing at the home of Jim and Amanda Taylor on the East River in Mathews is loaded with fruit. Across this part of Virginia, pears will soon be ripe and ready to use. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

They are a good source of vitamin C, they are a top fiber fruit, they are fat free, they are sodium free, they are nutrient-dense and they are delicious.

And they are in season.

We speak of the pear, among the world’s oldest cultivated fruits.

There is evidence that the pear was used as a food source in prehistoric times. Many traces of pears have been found in the Swiss lake dwellings. In 5,000 B.C. a Chinese diplomat grafted pears, peaches, almonds, persimmons and apples as a commercial venture. In his "Odyssey," Homer lauds pears as a "gift of the gods." Roman farmers documented extensive pear growing and grafting techniques and ate them both raw and cooked. Pliny’s "Natural History" recommended stewing them with honey and noted three dozen varieties (today there are more than 3,000).

Because of the pear’s versatility and long storage life, it was a valuable and a much-desired commodity among the trading routes of the ancient world.