#FoodieFriday – The Black Pear

Jun 25 2020 Foodie Fridays

This week’s Foodie Friday celebrates the iconic ‘black pear’ which is still grown here in the County. 

Worcestershire Orchards celebrates all of our historic orchard produce from apples, to pears and plums and they have shared with us the Pears history and their fav method of cooking it!

Tradition has it that during the visit of Queen Elizabeth I to Worcester in 1575 she saw a pear tree laden with black pears, which had been moved from the gardens at White Ladies and re-planted in her honour by the gate through which the queen was to enter the city. Noticing the tree Elizabeth is said to have directed the city to add three pears to its coat of arms.

Worcestershire history and place names are littered with references to pears, indicating their past cultural and economic importance to the region. The counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire were the focus of pear introduction to England by the Normans and they have been cultivated ever since. Seedlings from the original trees gave rise to specific varieties for eating, cooking and the production of perry.

So what does a Black Pear Look like?

The Black Pear is a cooking or culinary pear which is oval and irregular in shape. Individual fruits can be up to 78mm (3″) wide and 85mm long, weighing as much as 260g. They have a dark mahogany colour (not true black) with russet freckles and small areas of rough skin. The flesh is a pale yellow or cream, tinged green under the skin. A common mistake is to pick the fruit in October or early November and to try to use it immediately, when it is crisp, hard and gritty. They should instead be stored until January and will then keep until April. It was this quality of keeping through the winter without refrigeration that once made them so valuable. Various varieties of Warden pears were supposedly transported with the troops as part of their food provisions because of their long lasting properties.

Baked Black Pear

As far back as the 13th Century the wardon pear was a baking pear of great repute and was for centuries a favourite for inclusion in pies and pastries, described in every early cookery book.

Worcester Orchards shares with us their tried and tested recipe:
6 large firm pears
450ml red wine
1oz / 28g brown sugar
Pinch of ground cinnamon, ginger and saffron

Peel the pears and place in an oven proof dish. Mix the red wine with the brown sugar and spices and pour over the pears. Bake in the oven at 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4 until tender (this can be up to 2 hours in the case of black pears).

Enjoy!

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