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Golden delicious! Crisp pears are perfect for fruity, fall crumble

By the editors of Relish Magazine | 11/18/2016, 6 a.m.
We wish there was a better way of knowing when a pear is ripe. What we remember most about making ...
Photo by Teresa Blackburn

We wish there was a better way of knowing when a pear is ripe. What we remember most about making Pear Crumble was the angst of sniffing, pressing and just plain guessing about the fruit’s ripeness. That was before we read “How to Pick a Peach” by Russ Parsons (Houghton Mifflin, 2007) and learned pears are harvested when they’re hard and only then do they start to ripen. Also, they ripen from the inside out, which means when the outside is soft, the inside is mushy.

Whenever we’re in a hurry to make the crumble, we follow Parsons’ instructions and put the pears in a paper bag to speed things along. Or, we let them ripen on the counter until they’re ever so slightly soft at the stem ends. Either way, it can be a tough call. That’s why we think a graduate student in food technology looking for something to study could revolutionize the industry by creating a tag to attach to fruit—like a Post-it—that changes color when the fruit is ripe. Now, that would be progress.

Pear Crumble

Firm pears, such as Bartlett, work well for this crumble.

Crumble:

  • ²⁄³ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
  • ¹⁄³ cup chopped walnuts

Filling:

  • 6 cups firm, peeled pears, cut into small chunks (about 2 ½ pounds)
  • ¹⁄³ cup apple cider or juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup orange marmalade
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

  2. To prepare crumble, combine flour and sugars in a large bowl. Cut in butter with two knives or your fingers until crumbly. Stir in walnuts.

  3. To prepare filling, combine pears, cider, lemon juice and flour in a large bowl. Spoon into an 8-inch square baking dish. Dot with marmalade. Sprinkle with crumble mixture.

  4. Bake 40 minutes or until fruit is bubbling at edges and top is golden brown. Serves 8.

— Recipe by Jean Kressy