From 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
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.
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.
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?