I've wanted to make a pear crisp for years! My old-fashioned apple crisp recipe has been a go-to for decades and is one of my most popular posts. I first found that vintage recipe in a little cookbook that was put together by the employees of a local bank somewhere around 1967.
So why haven't I made a pear crisp until now? The pear season where we live falls right between sweet corn and apples. Just when the peaches are the best and most plentiful, I'm usually busy freezing and canning corn and making jam, and the pears come and go while I'm not paying attention. Not this time!
The other reason I haven't gotten around to a pear crisp is that the fresh pears in the grocery store are either rock-hard or battered and bruised. For a crisp, I wanted perfectly ripened pears. I brought home some big green Anjou pears, determined to accomplish this goal! They were as hard as a bowling ball!
Unlike apples, pears ripen after they are picked and not on the branch like apples. They have a pretty short window of ripening, so they're tricky. The information in this post from Harry & David is excellent because who knows beautiful fruit better than those guys?
Before I even found that article to share with you, I resorted to the old-school paper-bag-and-apple trick. I put the five big, beautiful pears in a paper sack with an apple. The apple gives off ethylene gas, which helps hasten the ripening process. The apple serves as a kind of coach that gets the pears to pick up the pace and get going!
Each day, I opened the bag, rotated the pears so they all got some time close to their apple "coach," checked for ripeness, and closed the bag again!
Taking a peek every day is important because they can ripen quickly when they start to ripen! Also, pears might not ripen evenly! If one or two get ahead, put them in the refrigerator to slow them down and let the other pears catch up!
I always make my apple crisp in a deep-dish nine-and-one-half-inch glass Pyrex pie plate. I use these pie plates for so many recipes! You can bake yours in a similar-sized pan of your choice! I sprayed the pan with non-stick spray and sliced my now perfectly perfect pears into the pie plate.
Then I made a mixture of flour, sugar, a pinch of salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and sprinkled it over the pears. Mixing the flour and sugar well before adding it to the sliced fruit is important. Pears have a higher moisture content than apples, and they are naturally sweeter, so I modified my apple crisp recipe with a little more flour and less sugar.
Next, I made the yummy buttery oatmeal topping (my favorite part!). I always make this in a skillet. I melt the stick of butter, then add the brown sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and oatmeal and stir it until it forms a crumbly dough. I added sliced almonds for some interesting crunch with the soft fruit.
Distribute this amazing topping as evenly as possible over the fruit and press it down lightly. Now bake the pear crisp at 350 degrees for about forty minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filling bubbles along the edges. Your kitchen will smell amazing!!
Let the pear crisp cool down a little before serving it. A scoop of vanilla ice cream perfectly accompanies this delicious dessert. You'll love how the vanilla ice cream melts into the little nooks and crannies and makes everything taste fantastic!
Learn to enjoy and take advantage of the foods of each season! When you purchase produce that's in season, the flavor will be much better, and the prices much lower! The closer to the source and peak season, the better the quality and taste of the fresh ingredients you buy!
What's great right now? There are loads of wonderful apples and pears in the produce aisle, and watch for beautiful red pomegranates and bright, cheerful orange persimmons. Buy fresh cranberries and freeze them right in the bag to use in recipes all winter long!
Winter squash like pumpkin, butternut, kabocha, acorn squash, and delicata are abundant and will be for the next several weeks.
Sweet potatoes are at their best, as are root vegetables like turnips, beets, and parsnips. For greens, look for kale, chard, and Brussels sprouts. Look for freshly harvested nuts in the fall, too, like almonds, pecans, and walnuts!
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Love, GB (Betty Streff)
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