Pears: The Gift Of The Gods, The Aphrodisiac Of The Kings

We may consider pear as a humble, juicy and fragrant fruit of no particular nutritional value, but in ancient times the pear tree was considered sacred and it was associated with longevity, while its fruits were a symbol of wealth, abundance and fertility!

”Gift of the Gods”

The ancient Greek poet Homer (800 BC), the father of the famous Iliad and Odyssey, referred to pears as the “gift of the gods to men.” The reason for this mention of Homer was on the one hand the healing qualities attributed to pears by the ancient Greeks, and on the other hand, the kingdom of King Alkinoos, which was full of pear trees, an indication of wealth. 

Not only the Greeks but also other ancient civilizations considered the fruits of the pear tree sacred. For the kings of ancient China, the pear was a symbol of longevity, wisdom and wealth, while the ancient Egyptians considered pears sacred because they believed pears were increasing the fertility of couples. Centuries later, Louis XVI of France will become a fan of pears’ properties.

Initially, he thought he had become richer since he started consuming pears. That is why he ordered pear trees to be planted in the royal gardens. Soon, he discovered another property of pears …the aphrodisiac one. He believed that frequent consumption of this fruit had strengthened his sex life and his fertility. If you consider that at that time (1660) Louis had 22 children, 2 lawful spouses and 10 mistresses, – what a womanizer Ludovico he was! – maybe there was some base on his claims about aphrodisiac pears!

Pear, the aphrodisiac fruit!

Even though, in our days there is no scientific evidence that pears improve sex life, in the past centuries the pear reputation was spreading rapidly. It was said that, the pear juice could increase the low sperm count in men, and help the brain produce higher levels of testosterone in men and estrogens in women. That was the explanation they gave as to how the couples which, had fertility problems finally had babies while some others saw the quality of their sex lives improving. One could think of pears as the ancient Viagra! Just in case someone is interested…the recipe used back then was fresh pear juice from ripe pears – if you buy japan pears even better- with honey and cinnamon! Cheers!

Pear, the antipyretic and soothing to the throat!

The pear, in our days, has been categorized as an hypoallergic fruit that does not cause allergic reactions. Ancient Greeks, with their experience and knowledge of the herbs and fruits, knew this and, for that reason they knew it was safe to use juice from the pears’ peels to drop the fever in both adults and young children.

Pear juice was also mixed with honey and used as a cough syrup and as a soothing for the throat. They believed that the combination of pear with honey was expectorant and, that by drinking it, they aid lungs and breathing. However, this practice still exists in our days and it is used by many in Asia, Egypt and Greece.

Other benefits of pears

They are a fast source of energy!

This fruit is highly concentrated in fructose and sorbitol, which means that even consuming a pear or two will give you the necessary energy your brain and body needs to work properly. It could be a great snack at work!

They reduce cholesterol levels in blood

Pears are natural and rich source of a substance called pectin. Consumption of pectin has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels. The way it works is by increasing viscosity in the intestinal tract thus, leading to a reduced absorption of cholesterol from bile or food.

They promote healing and tissue repair

This mechanism is also based on the existence of pectin. According to a study published in 2007 in Annals of Botany, pectin was found to have some function in DNA repair of plants. Particularly, plant surfaces which are rich in pectin, create a mucilage layer that holds in dew and helps the cell repair its DNA. This fact may explain the use of ripe pear juice from ancient civilizations in the treatment of eczema and dermatitis.

They protect the body from oxidation and heart attacks

Pears are a good source of vitamin c, k, copper and potassium, the combination of which can protects your body from free radicals and also protects you from a heart attack. Potassium is a well-known vasodilator used in pharmaceuticals for years. It lowers blood pressure, reducing with this way the strain on the entire cardiovascular system and making it harder for clots to form and cause a heart attack.

Pear tips and ideas 

First of all, you should know that you can find pears all the seasons of the year but, the most tasty and fragrant are those you’ll consume from the end of June until the end of October. There are many species to choose and many ways to consume pears, such as canned, dried, fresh or as a juice.  I suggest that you make your own handmade compote with pears (slices of pears cooked in syrup)  and avoid the canned from supermarkets.

Pick up the unripe pears and store them in room temperature. You can fold them in cuisine paper and leave them outside the fridge to ripe naturally. This way they keep all the flavor and fragrance. if you want to preserve them for longer, you may put them in the fridge but they probably remain a bit stiff. To people with constipation problems stiff and unripe pears may worsen the constipation.

However, as it happens with all Mediterranean countries the same here in Greece we have many warm days thus, we prefer eating lot of cool salads, many of them are a combination of fruit and vegetables and of course we love ice-cream.

Pears with vanilla ice cream and chocolate!

My favorite sweet for summer is vanilla ice-cream with compote pears served with fresh strawberries, candied pistachio and syrup chocolate. Serving ice cream with pears is a delicious combination especially when you combine pears with straweberries and chocolate. You’ll love it!

Salad with pears, lettuce and goat cheese!

In a bowl you put: chopped lettuce, small slices of pears, chopped tomatoes, goat cheese, walnuts, black pepper, salt, olive oil, few drops of balsamic vinegar. Easy, cheap, delicious!

You can make your own fresh combinations!

Bon appetite!

Sotia Bella