This week our guide to seasonal foods is focusing on pears.

These soft, juicy delicacies are perfect for adding a bit of sweetness to desserts and savoury dishes in autumn but, did you know that pears are a fantastic source of fibre, with one medium fruit containing around 25% of your recommended daily allowance?

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HeraldScotland food expert Paul Kitching, from 21212 in Edinburgh, has always loved pears and says that they are one of the most versatile ingredients you can use in the kitchen.

He said: "Pears are perfect right now and you can do anything with them.

"They are a funny one because people have got very strong opinions about them. However, for me, if I walk past a fruit shop, there are two things that always excite me, melons and pears. I find them fascinating and I would rather have a pear any day of the week than an apple.

"I was brought up eating hard conference pears and, when I was a youngster, I used to eat the tinned ones and then pour the beautiful juice that was left over on bread and butter and eat it. It was like a bread, pear and butter pudding. It was so good that I wish I could eat it again now but I know that if I do I will not be able to stop.

"Pears are very versatile and go well with sweetcorn and pork, turkey and venison as a sweet sort of cranberry sauce. They are also great with cinnamon anglaise and sultanas."

In the kitchen, Paul says there are few better ingredients to use during autumn and winter than pears.

He said: "Pears are great for so many things. You can make a pear crumble with them. You can spike them, wrap them in tin foil and bake them like a jacket potato, finish them under the grill and serve with warm custard and pear liqueur. You can even pour the liqueur over the top and light it, which is lovely.

"I like to make a pear compote by chopping pears, apples and sultanas and cooking them together. You can also blitz that and create a pear puree, which turns golden if you add a bit of saffron to it.

"However, the most famous pear dish is Pear Belle Helene which is pears with chocolate sauce, ice cream and custard. At the moment we are serving a dish which is just fantastic called a pair of pears in chocolate. One of them is pears in crème brulee and the other is roasted pears with pear juice and chocolate. I don't know why but pears and chocolate just go as do apples and pears, just like the old Cockney rhyming slang suggests.

"Pears never let you down, I just love them."

Here are 10 more fascinating facts that you might not know about pears.

1 There are over 3,000 varieties of pears grown around the world

2 The European pear is originally from Southeast Asia and was first grown in Europe around 1,000BC

3 In ancient China, pears were considered to be a symbol of immortality

4 Before the introduction of tobacco in Europe people used to smoke pear leaves

5 In ancient Greece, pears were used as a natural remedy to treat nausea

6 They were given the nickname ‘butter fruit’ in the 1700s because of their soft, buttery texture

7 In The Odyssey, Homer called the pear a ‘gift from the Gods’

8 Mums are often advised to use pears when weaning babies because they are low in acid and are not too harsh on the digestive system

9 Eating a pear when you are feeling sluggish can be a great pick-me-up because it is a good source of glucose, which is converted by the body in to energy

10 A medium pear contains around 10% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C and 1& of your iron, calcium and vitamin A.