Pears featured at Food Heroes Event

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A couple of weeks ago I was pleased to participate in a celebration for Food Heroes here in Brunswick County. These Food Heroes are the food pantry and giving garden staff and volunteers that work throughout the year to help feed the food insecure in our county. This event was sponsored by the Brunswick County Wellness Coalition (BWC).

From left to right, Avery Ashley Extension Agent Family and Consumer Sciences for Brunswick County, Cheryle Syracuse, Family and Consumer Sciences for Brunswick County, and Lee Harlow Extension Master Food Volunteer at the Food Heroes event recognizing and celebrating local food pantry and giving garden volunteers and staff.

The food theme of the evening was pears—a food that is frequently seen at food
pantries this time of year. Several BWC partners offered food tastings that featured
pears and unique ways to serve pears.

Our Extension Master Food Volunteers (EMFV) stepped up to the plate to help with this special event. Margarete O’Leary EMFV from Supply developed a new produce fact sheet to be distributed at food pantries featuring pears. Lee Harlow EMFV from Leland helped the Family and Consumer Science team share samples of a Chicken Salad with Pears from the new fact sheet.

Chicken Salad with Pears
2 cups diced ripe Bartlett pears (fresh or canned)
¼ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion (sweet, red or green onion)
¼ cup raisins (or any dried fruit)
1 cup diced cooked chicken breast

2 Tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh (or bottled) lemon juice

Before you begin…wash your hands and clean kitchen counter and wash fresh pears in cool running water. Never use dish soap, detergent or bleach to clean pears (or any fruit) as it will absorb that liquid. Handle gently to avoid bruising. Remove stem, if there is one, and any brown (bruised) spots or deep blemishes. Peeling is optional. If using canned pears, drain well.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except pears. Mix well, then gently stir in pears so they are not crushed if they’re canned or very soft. Serve now or cover and chill until serving time. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours. Salad is best eaten the same day it’s made. Makes five 1/2cup servings. About 160 calories per serving, 3 grams fiber, 12 grams sugar, 19 grams carbohydrates and 5 grams fat.

Additional tips from our EMFV about selecting and ripening pears:

  • There are many varieties of pears each with their own characteristics. However, generally the varieties readily available in stores are Bartlett, Bosc, and sometimes Anjou. You may find more varieties at farmers’ markets. Colors of pears can vary from yellow, to red and even speckled.
  • Ripe pears will “give” slightly to gentle thumb pressure at the “neck” (stem end). Color can also be a good indicator of ripeness for some varieties such as Bartletts (yellow when ripe). Bosc and other pear varieties do not change color when ripe. Use the “neck” test.
  • For good flavor and texture, pears must be ripened after harvest. Pears ripen from the inside out. To ripen pears, place them in a loosely closed paper bag and leave the bag on the countertop at room temperature or add a ripening banana or whole apple to the bag along with the pears.
  • Once ripe, refrigerate them and use within a few days or preserve them as soon as possible.Chicken salad on crackers.

Copies of the new pear fact sheet and other produce and food fact sheets are available in quantities from N.C. Cooperative Extension here i Brunswick County for use in local pantries. All of the produce fact sheets developed by the EMFV are also available on our website.

The mission of the Brunswick Wellness Coalition is to improve the health of residents of Brunswick County with the goal of making us the healthiest county in NC. N.C. Cooperative Extension here in Brunswick County is a BWC partner.

Thanks again for all the work so many people do to help feed others here in our county.

N.C. Cooperative Extension table with food. N.C. Cooperative Extension table with food.

Original recipe source: at Oregon State University Extension Service

Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be reached at or by calling N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-2610