Anjou, Bartlett, Seckel…there are so many pear varieties that it can be a challenge trying to figure out what you need for a recipe. After all, you have to consider the texture as well as the flavor.
Are you looking for crisp or soft? Sweet or tangy? The good news is that there are plenty of options available no matter your preferences.
Whether you want to cut one up and serve it at a party or bake it into a recipe, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best pears for eating and some tips on how to prepare them.
The Best Pears for Eating Raw
There’s something incredibly satisfying about biting into a juicy pear and getting that intense burst of flavor. Pears are one of the most popular fruits consumed in the United States.
Knowing about the different varieties is key to buying the right types of pears. So, here are some of the best kinds to get if you like eating them raw.
Anjou pears are large fruits with short necks. They come in both red and green varieties, perfect if you want to add a little color to a fruit spread.
These firm, juicy pears have a buttery texture. The flavor is sweet with a mild citrus taste.
One of the best things about Anjou pears is that you can find them almost all year. So, if you love the flavor and like eating them raw, you can almost always find them. This is also one of the many pear variations that you can use in recipes, such as pear bread or cake.
Asian pears is actually a broad term that encompasses many varieties. These rounded fruits have brown or green skin and remain firm, even when ripe. As a result, they have a crunchy texture not unlike an apple.
It’s that texture that makes them popular as a fruit for eating raw, but they also work well in crisps.
Asian pears have a mild and sweet taste.
Another popular variety is the Bartlett or Williams pear, which is well known for how juicy it is. It’s this classic shape and flavor that most people think of when you mention “true pears.”
These fruits have a sweet flavor and that juiciness makes them a favorite for eating raw. If you want to eat them this way, you’ll have to let them ripen at room temperature first. You can also can them or make pear preserves.
Bartlett pears have either red or green skin and are usually found in stores from September through early winter.
Comice pears are quite popular and you’ve likely seen them used in gift baskets before. In fact, these fruits are sometimes called “Christmas pears” due to how often they appear in holiday gift boxes or baskets.
These short, round fruits have a lovely sweet flavor. They’re also not as gritty as some other varieties, making them an excellent choice for eating raw.
Comice pears go well on cheese boards, especially when paired with brie, aged cheddar, or gorgonzola.
Seckel pears are very tiny and range in color from green to dark red. You can generally find them in stores from September until February, depending on where you live.
You want to make sure these fruits are completely ripe before using them. However, they’re great for snacking on, bringing on picnics, or to the beach. You can also use them in a salad for an added burst of flavor.
If you do cut up pears for snacking or as a salad topping, you can minimize browning with a bit of lemon juice.
The Best Pears for Cooking or Baking
From fresh salads to delicious pear crisps, there’s no shortage of recipes out there. If you’re interested in baking or cooking with pears, try some of these varieties.
Concorde pears are nice and juicy, with a sweet flavor.
They have a long tapered neck which gives them a unique appearance. Their lovely bright green skin can sometimes have a reddish blush.
These types of pears work well in recipes when poached or roasted.
Bosc pears have the typical shape you expect from the fruit but with brown and mottled skin. They have a crisp texture and a sweet, slightly tart flavor. It’s that classic pear flavor everyone knows and loves.
Bosc pears work well in recipes since they have a nice firm flesh.
The Kieffer pear is actually a cross between Bartlett and Asian pears. The skin has a yellow color with russet spots and it can also have a pinkish blush.
The fruit has a crisp flesh that makes it a great choice for canning, preserves, or baking.
Sunrise pears have a soft yellow coloring with a slight blush. They also have a lovely smell, and the flesh is both sweet and juicy. As such, they’re great for snacking or for baking.
People use these pears in drinks such as sangria. You can also use them to make tasty baked desserts.
True to their name, these pears are usually harvested in mid-August. You can also store the fruit for a few months if you don’t get to them right away.
This hybrid has a round shape and golden skin mixed with red patches. The crisp and juicy nature of these pears makes them great for eating raw. However, they also make excellent fruits for preserves.
Factors to Consider When Selecting Pears
These certainly aren’t all of the pear varieties out there. You may come across a name that we haven’t covered here. That’s why it’s a good idea to know what you should consider before choosing a pear to eat.
First, there are generally two types of pears: those that can hold their shape and those that don’t. If a pear falls apart, you may not want to use it when baking, poaching, or grilling.
Pears that stay firm and hold their shape are the best choices for cooking or baking. You want it to have a crispness that can hold up even against high heat.
Some good choices for cooking or baking include Anjou, Bosc, and Concorde.
If you plan to eat pears raw, you’ll need to let them ripen first. This can take a few days of sitting on the counter at room temperature. Once soft, use them that day or store them in the refrigerator.
You can help pears keep their color and avoid having them turn brown by using a little diluted lemon juice.
Fruits like apples and pears turn brown when you remove the skin and expose them to the air. Fruits high in the enzyme polyphenol oxidase suffer from oxidation and change color. In short, the peel protects them, and removing it or cutting the fruit causes a reaction.
While lemon juice helps temporarily, you still want to cut your pears close to when you plan to eat them.
Other factors to consider include the flavor and texture. Pears can have a gritty or grainy texture. Popular varieties like Comice pears have a smoother texture, making them better for snacking.
While most pears have a sweetness to them, some are sweeter than others (like Comice). Concorde pears have a slight vanilla flavor. Anjou pears have more tang, making them popular for cooking or baking.
Ways to Add Pears to Your Meals
So, if it’s pear season and you find yourself with an overabundance of these popular fruits, how can you use them all before they go bad?
Luckily for you, there are many ways to use pears in recipes or to preserve them for later use.
Pear bread is deliciously moist, and perfect for a breakfast treat or as a snack. You can even give it a streusel topping for extra dimension and flavor.
You usually use several medium-sized pears for the recipe, around four or so, and you can freeze the bread for several months.
What better way to spruce up your usual salad than with crisp, juicy pears?
Pear salad is easy to make as a side dish or a main meal. It tastes delicious when combined with walnuts and Gorgonzola. Slice the pears thinly for the best result and toss with a homemade dressing.
Fruit tarts are a beloved dessert that looks beautiful on the table and tastes even better.
Using the right type of sugar can also play a role when baking with fruits. A decadent brown sugar topping goes perfectly with the sweetness of pears.
This dessert recipe is sure to be a winner in any household.
Are you looking for a sweet yet slightly healthier alternative for dessert? Pear cake is super moist and melts in the mouth. It can make a sweet start to the day with your morning cup of coffee or make a great treat after dinner.
Consider adding a little textural variety with hazelnuts.
There are plenty of ways to use pear honey, from spooning a little on biscuits to drizzling it over pound cake. It’s also very easy to make this recipe, and you can store it for up to two weeks.
If you have a surplus of pears but you don’t want them to go bad, consider canning them. It’s easy to do, and it’s an excellent way to ensure you have access to fresh fruit year-round.
You can find a simple canning recipe using only three ingredients: sugar, water, and pears.
Pear preserves are a classic recipe and a great way to help ensure fruit lasts longer. Spread preserves on toast, use it in marinades, or spoon it over desserts.
Paired With Cheese
Pears make an excellent addition to a cheese board. For instance, the popular Bartlett pear goes well with goat cheese, parmigiano-reggiano, mascarpone, and pecorino romano. Anjou pears, with their slight spiciness, go well with brie, aged gouda, and mild cheddar.
Looking for a decadent recipe to impress? Consider serving red wine-poached pears with a little mascarpone cheese.
Are you looking for a fast and easy way to add pears to your dinners? You can cut firm pears in half and grill them for a sweet side dish. Pears also complement pork chops very well.
Don’t feel as if you’re limited to using one type of pear in a recipe. Mixing pears is a great way to get more variety in your baked goods.
If you want to enhance the flavor of your pears, add a little cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg.
When Are Pears in Season?
Anyone interested in growing pears or buying them at the market is likely wondering when they’re in season.
Pears are mostly fall or early winter fruits, although certain varieties are ready in the spring. Peak season runs from September through January.
Common varieties you’ll likely find at the grocery store include Anjou, Bartlett, and Bosc. However, you may find more types at your local farmer’s market or orchard.
Pears ripen starting from the inside, so you’ll have to gently squeeze the top of the fruit (near the stem) to see when it’s ripe. Surprisingly, pears don’t ripen on the tree. They’re best harvested when still hard to the touch.
If you’re interested in growing pears, you should know that you must put them in cold storage to trigger the ripening process.
Looking for Delicious Pear Dishes?
There are so many ways to enjoy pears, whether you want the best pears for eating raw or you plan to bake with them. Use these tips to get the most out of pear season and add variety to your meals.
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