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Chat Leftovers: Another kind of pear

By Jane Touzalin

Happy Wednesday. Have fun digesting this week’s Food section and its Thanksgiving recipes that pull inspiration from native people in Central, South and North America. You’ll be seeing a second special Thanksgiving section this Sunday, and then we’ll be back to usual Wednesday publication in December.

Though there will be no section next Wednesday, there WILL be a Free Range chat. And of course there’s one today at noon. So pull up a chair and bring your holiday questions – or any type of food question. Here’s one we couldn’t get to from last week’s chat:

Giant has something called "cactus pear Andy Boy" that I've not seen before. What would this taste like? Should I buy? How do I know if ripe or not?

Andy Boy is a brand name for a pear harvested from the prickly pear cactus. The fruit has long been eaten by Native Americans of the Southwest. The producers of this prickly pear have taken off most of the fruit’s little spines, so dealing with one shouldn’t be a painful experience. Still, whenever you’re handling any brand of prickly pear, it’s not a bad idea to wear a glove or use a dish towel as a buffer.

The pear-shaped fruit has a mildly sweet taste that’s hard to describe; maybe a little bit like a kiwi. You can eat it uncooked out of hand, you can slice it onto salads, you can bake it into desserts or you can puree it and use it in mixed drinks or fresh sauces. The seeds are edible, but can be hard.

To get to the fruit, slice off both ends, then cut just through the skin from top to bottom; you should then be able to peel the skin right off.

Buy fruits that are firm but not too firm, with no wrinkles and bruises. You can buy them a little underripe, and they will ripen if you leave them out. Once they’re ripe, store them in the refrigerator.

I say, whenever you see a new fruit or vegetable at the store, buy it and try it. And if you can find a way to add this one to your Thanksgiving table, you’ll be contributing a Southwestern accent that’s right in there with this week’s Food section Thanksgiving theme.

-- Jane Touzalin

By Jane Touzalin  | November 17, 2010; 9:20 AM ET
Categories:  Chat Leftovers, Holiday  | Tags:  Chat Leftovers, Free Range, Jane Touzalin  
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