By GWEN SISSON
The Reese family loves to peel, slice and cook fresh pears in the crock pot, sprinkled with a little cinnamon.
After several hours the pears are mashed into a sauce consistency and put in plastic freezer containers, without sugar.
“They don’t need sugar, they are plenty sweet,” said David Reese, owner of Reese Orchard in the Sessums Community. “I thaw out the sauce and keep in the fridge to put on top of my Franola Granola before I pour on milk — a tasty healthy breakfast or snack.”
According to published reports, pears are a good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C, potassium, fiber and copper. Reports show pears are a slow-releasing energy fruit, excellent for helping to balance blood sugar levels.
Mississippi State University Dietetic Interns Emily Keith and Amanda Goodwin working at OCH Regional Medical Center, said one medium pear counts as 1 cup of fruit for a normal 2,000-calorie diet, whereas the daily recommended amount of fruit according to the USDA is about 2 cups of fruit a day. Keith and Goodwin’s research shows one medium pear also provides 6 grams of fiber, which is about 20 percent of the daily-recommended amount of fiber, and it also provides 15 percent of a person’s daily value of Vitamin C.
Some research also shows that pears and pear juice may also be good for those suffering from heartburn and acid reflux.
“I am anxious for those who (suffer from acid reflex) to please try some of our pears and report back to us on this,” Reese said. “For some these conditions are chronic and it would be truely wonderful if the pears could help someone.”
Pears are currently in season at Starkville’s U-Pick Orchard. Reese is a big believer in providing local, healthy, pesticide-free fresh fruit for his customers, with three varieties of pears.
Reese said their dessert pears are normally picked green and still firm and allowed to ripen or mellow off the tree. He said they can be stored in the fridge for a while, but to get them to go ahead and ripen properly they can be left out in a fruit bowl or put in a paper bag and left somewhere indoors besides the fridge.
“They will turn yellow and get soft under the thumb, which may take a week or more,” Reese said. “At that time they are at their peak in flavor and their texture will be what is usually termed ‘buttery.’ They really just about dissolve in your mouth, with a wonderful sweet flavor.”
Reese said this is in contrast to Asian pears which are picked at or near peak ripeness and can be consumed immediately after picking.
“Their texture by contrast is hard and crunchy like an apple,” Reese said. “Even though they are sometimes called apple pears, they are not an apple nor an apple- pear cross. They are simply a different type of pear that may be apple shaped and have a crunchy apple-like texture.”
A third type of pear available at Reese Orchard is the cooking/canning pear and these are often Asian - European pear crosses.
“They are usually hard like an Asian pear but may lack its sweet raw flavor, so are not the best for fresh eating,” Reese said. “They however cook up nicely.”
Reese Orchard has been growing Magness and Warren dessert pears since the late 1980s.
“Some high quality dessert pears don’t do well here in the South,” Reese said. “Comice for instance is one of the premier dessert pears that other dessert pears are often judged by. Comice unfortunately doesn’t do well here, but Magness does.”
Reese said Comice is actually one of the parents of Magness, but it must get it’s southern hardiness from it’s other parent - Seckel. Seckel is a small bright red pear also called “sugar pear” by some.
Reese Orchard is a u-pick orchard founded by Jack and Gloria Reese, and now owned and operated by their son, David.
The Orchard is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7 a.m. until noon, 3 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
To make an appointment for picking pears, contact Reese Orchard at 324-1509. For more information about the fall fruit and picking seasons, go to http://www.reeseorchard.com .