Week of March 11, 2019
A member of the large rose family, Homer called me “the gift of the gods.” I have been cultivated for over three thousand years and held in high esteem by the Greeks, Romans and Chinese. Today my largest production comes from China, Italy, the United States, and Russia. I have several hundred varieties, a result of the cross breeding done in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most of my varieties are teardrop shaped, but some cousins are completely round. We are very thin-skinned as a group but quite colorful with a range of colors including yellow, brown, red and green. Whatever the skin color my flesh is always white or cream-colored and finely textured. My core is small with about 8 to 12 small seeds. My starch converts to sugar best after I am picked, and I ripen beautifully outside the cooler in a paper bag. I am rich in fiber as well as potassium and copper. Best eaten out of hand, I can be poached, juiced, or dipped. I am used in salads, sorbets, cheese platters, marinades, and stuffing. Contrary to my name, I am allowed to go out alone.