Pear and Wine Festival continues to grow in Hood River

The rhyme is a new slogan of the Northwest Pear Bureau, the name sponsor of the Pear and Wine Festival.

It’s a catch phrase intended to capture new consumers, said Ed Matthews of Duckwall-Pooley Fruit, who helped at the bureau’s booth, passing out pear samples and answering questions about selecting, buying, and eating pears.

Most consumers squeeze pears in the middle to test ripeness, but the best way is to gentle press the neck, Matthews said. If it yields to pressure, it’s ready to eat.

Janet Kinefsky of the Pear Bureau held out Anjou pears and invited people to try a ripe pear.

Judy Neece of Oregon City listened to Kinefsky, pressed an Anjou and ate a juicy slice, and said, “That is delicious!”

“I learned something today,” Neece said. “How to pick out a good pear.”

For the festival, that kind of education meant mission accomplished.

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According to the Pear Bureau, many varieties of pears are grown in Oregon. Bartlett, Bosc, and Seckel are good varieties to preserve; however, Anjou, Comice, Nelis and Forelle may also be preserved, depending on the end product.

Here are some pointers:

* It is important to harvest pears at the correct time. Pick them when they are mature in size but not yet fully ripe. If picked too soon, they will shrivel in storage and will lack in flavor. If picked when over-mature, they will be coarse in texture, very soft, and often rotten on the inside.

* Commercial orchards use a pressure tester to tell when pears are ready to pick. Winter pears such as Anjou, Comice and Bosc will need a period of cool storage (35-40 Fahrenheit) to ripen correctly (Anjou, 45-60 days; Bosc, 45 days; Comice, 30 days). Pears purchased from commercial packing houses should be ready to ripen.

Picked pears should be ripened in a cool place (60-70 F). Not all pears will ripen at the same time, but inspect them daily.

Pears are ripe when the ground color changes, then flesh near the stem end yields to gentle pressure and there is a pear “smell.” Use immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

* Pears to be canned should be firmer than for eating fresh. Very soft pears can be used in fruit butters, fruit leathers or pear sauce.

* Each pear variety has an identifiable shape, color, and unique flavor of its own. Each can be appreciated for its particular character and taste. Many of the common varieties are also available with red skins which does not change the flavor, but just contribute to eye appeal.

* Pears are best canned, dried, and made into butters. They also make good relishes and chutneys. Freezing fresh pears is generally not recommended; cooked pears can be frozen with limited success.

For more information, go to www.usapears.com/trade

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