Pears are juicy, small, red fruit produced and eaten all over the world, mainly by women. The pear tree and berry shrub are part of a family of trees and shrubs belonging to the family Rosaceae, a genus of plants called the Pyrus. The tree itself was named from Greek words meaning “hardy plant” and “pear.” In Asia, it is the most popular fruits eaten as snacks and delicacies.
Pears are cultivated all over the world for their edible fruit and they can be grown in backyards, in potted gardens or in a container on the isle ofaire, a coastal area on the east coast of Ireland. They have a thick shell covering and a wax coating, which make them easy to peel. The inside of the pair contains the juice, meat, skin, seeds and latex, whereas the white part of the pear contains mostly sugar. Cooking or washing depends on how they are stored.
The pears were brought to Europe by traders and explorers during the Middle Ages, who could easily make money by selling syrup from the fresh pears and selling soap, salt and other products made from it. Soon, the gardeners of Europe created the first commercial preparations of this sweet, sour and salty fruit by concocting various recipes using different methods and ingredients. Soap makers from the Middle Ages to the early Renaissance used peels and glycerol to add luster and a pleasant smell to soaps. It was because of this process that Europeans were able to create soap for themselves and for cleaning with at the same time. As soap became more popular, so did recipes for making homemade soap.
During the Renaissance, the citrus fruits and their products were very popular and the manufacturers of soaps incorporated these fruits’ juices, skin, seeds and latex to their own recipes to make homemade soaps. However, after a while, when the demand for cheaper and more easily available ingredients like benzyl benzoate replaced the need for the expensive glycerol, the manufacturing process slightly modified. Glycerol was added to the soap making process in 1501 to replace the expensive benzyl benzoate which was difficult to find in Europe at the time. After that, the manufacturing process gradually became easier and simpler, until today, glycerol is still the principle ingredient of the ‘gentle care’ soap which is still favored by many consumers.
Because the fruit’s skin is somewhat thin, it can easily be inserted into molds and used as a raw material in culinary dishes. In fact, a lot of Asian dishes use pears’ skin in a lot of their recipes such as chicken marinades and pickled foods. When the pears’ skin is ripe, the seeds swell up and this can also be added to soups, salads and as pickles. Pears have a very strong smell and they are often soaked overnight to get the odor out. They are also known to expel all kinds of bad odors, including those of garlic, onions, wine and other strong scented foods. Although it is not recommended to eat the berries raw, it is certainly not harmful if they are cooked and eaten in moderation.
Because pears have a strong flavour and a firm texture, they are often added to cakes, biscuits, breads and even ice cream. Their juices can also be extracted and added to teas to make them more fragrant. Many people even add some pears leaves to their fruit juices to give them an extra kick. Because of its bitter taste, pears are commonly used to neutralize certain food flavourings, although this is not always necessary since some flavoursome food can still be enjoyed even with its bitter taste. Overall, the pears plant is definitely one of nature’s sweetest fruits!