HOW TO PICK A PEAR
Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc pears are varieties that can be eaten raw or cooked. Other varieties, such as Forelle and Seckel, are better eaten raw.
Pears are one of the few fruits that are much better when they’re picked before they ripen. Pears ripen from the inside out, so as soon as the stem end has a slight give to it when gently pressed, the fruit is ripe. Don’t wait for the midsection to be soft.
Buy firm pears and place them in a paper bag to ripen if you need them in a day or so. Placing a banana or an apple in the bag speed up ripening (here’s why).
WHAT IS CRÈME FRAÎCHE?
Crème fraîche (pronounced crem fresh, French for “fresh cream”) is a thickened cream. It’s not as thick as sour cream, but more of the consistency of yogurt, which is an appropriate analogy because it is slightly soured with bacterial culture. Originally from Normandy, the dairy heartland of France, today it is used extensively in Continental and American fine cuisine.
Sour cream, which is more accessible and less expensive, can be substituted in most recipes; but crème fraîche has advantages: it can be whipped, and it will not curdle when cooked over high heat. In addition, it is usually a bit lighter in body than commercial sour creams, more subtly sour, and overall more elegant.
Crème fraîche is made by inoculating unpasteurized heavy cream with Lactobacillus cultures, letting the bacteria grow until the cream is both soured and thick and then pasteurizing it to stop the process. Thus, authentic crème fraîche cannot be made at home because generally, only pasteurized cream is available to consumers. To add Lactobacillus to pasteurized cream will cause it to spoil instead of sour.
The only negative to crème fraîche is that it’s pricey. You can make your own with far less expense with this crème fraîche recipe.