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Falling for Pears

Assorted PearsFrom the tip of their distinctive shape right down to their unique texture, pears are a beautifully satisfying fruit. And autumn and winter are the perfect time for pears and when you’ll see the most varieties. So, whether you like your pears with a little crunch or prefer them soft and super sweet, there’s a pear to please everyone

The Very Many Varieties of Pears

Here’s a list of some common European varieties you’ll see in the produce section this season, what they taste like and what to do with them. 



Characteristics: sweet, can be eaten firm or soft

Appearance: green or red, green changes to green-yellow when ripe

Recommended Use: out of hand



Characteristics: aromatic, sweet, juicy, soft

Appearance: green fruit turns yellow when ripe

Recommended Use: out of hand, canning, cooking, salads



Characteristics: aromatic, firm, crisp

Appearance: exterior color does not change when ripe

Recommended Use: baking, poaching



Characteristics: very sweet, flavorful, soft

Appearance: dull green or red/yellow, changes very little when ripe

Recommended Use: out of hand, desserts, served with cheese



Characteristics: dense, crisp, sweet

Appearance: green with yellow undertones when ripe

Recommended Use: salads, baking 



Characteristics: small, sweet, juicy

Appearance: deep yellow with red blush

Recommended Use: out of hand, baking



Characteristics: small, very sweet, spicy

Appearance: maroon and olive green, does not change when ripe

Recommended Use: out of hand, garnish, baking, pickling


Perfect Pear-ings

Of course, pears are lovely all on their own, but they are also great in a variety of dishes. Their crunch makes them a nice addition to salads, their sweetness complements savory meats and pungent cheese, and their flavor and texture are perfect for sauces and baked goods.

Ham and Roasted Pear Crostini

Spinach Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Goat Cheese Quinoa with Watercress and Pears

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes and Pears Tangy Grilled Pork Chops with Pears and Blue Cheese

Baked Maple Chicken with Wild Rice and Bartlett Pear Pilaf

Ginger and Jasmine Tea-Poached Pears


Most pears ripen best at room temperature. Keep them in a fruit bowl or in a loosely closed paper sack and check for ripeness daily by pressing gently near the stem with your thumb. If the flesh yields, the pear is ready to eat. Ripening can be delayed by refrigerating. Lengthy refrigeration when fully ripe can make some varieties mealy. 

Nutrition Information

Pears are a good source of dietary fiber, particularly if unpeeled. Pears also contain significant amounts of vitamin C and potassium.

What’s your idea of a perfect pear?

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nik says …

I love pears, especially Comice, and wait patiently for the Fall harvest every year. Thanks for the vegan recipes: Cinnamon Pear Compote (without the optional butter), Quinoa with Watercress, Pears and Pomegranates, Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes and Pears and Ginger and Jasmine Tea-Poached Pears...most of the others can be veganized too! Cheers!

Joyce Bernard says …

I am having difficulty locating Seckel pears - are they available at Whole Foods Richmond?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JOYCE - Our products vary between store locations so I would recommend contacting the Richmond store directly to check with their Produce department. I found a number for the store in Glen Allen, PA, which I believe is the closest. You can call them at 804.364.4050.