Picked unripe, pears are allowed to slowly ripen and mellow, softening and becoming sweeter as they ripen. A favorite fall and winter fruit (but available year-round), pears are enjoyed for their juicy, sweet flavor and tender texture.
Different types of pears
Anjou pears come in a variety of autumnal colors, from light green to yellow-green to fiery red. Anjou pears, with their squat shape, are firm and have a mealy texture. They are juicy with a sweet-spicy flavor. These pears do not change color upon ripening. Eat fresh, and use in salads and desserts.
Asian pears have a less traditional pear shape and more of an apple shape. This Asian variety is firm and juicy with an apple-pear flavor. These pears, also known as Chinese pears and apple pears, have a crunchy texture. Eat fresh, use in salads or bake.
Bartlett pears are all-purpose pears with the classic pear shape. The most common pear, they are smooth with green skins that turn buttery yellow when ripe. Bartletts can also be red, so they do not change color with ripening. When ripe, Bartlett pears have a juicy, sweet flavor and a perfumy aroma. Terrific for eating fresh and using in salads and desserts, Bartletts are the most common type of canned pears.
Bosc pears have a slender shape with a longer top and long, thin stem. They have a mottled tan-gold color that remains from picking to ripening. Bosc pears have a subtle nutty flavor and buttery texture. Use for baking and poaching, as well as for eating fresh.
Comice pears are short and squat with a greenish yellow color and red blush when ripe. Their sweet, juicy flesh and buttery texture make them best for eating fresh.
Forelle pears are small with a bell shape. Green before ripening, these pears turn a golden yellow with a red blush when ripe. Sweet and quite juicy, Forelle pears are great eaten fresh and used in salads and desserts.
Seckel pears are petite red or red and green pears. Sometimes even small enough to be bite-size, these tiny pears pack a super-sweet flavor that makes them terrific for snacking or using in appetizers and desserts.
How to Choose Pears
- Look for firm or hard unripe pears with no bruises or cuts and with stems that are in place.
- Pears are one of a handful of fruits that are actually better if ripened after picking. Because they are delicate, it’s better to ripen pears at home rather than purchasing them ripe.
How to Store or Ripen Pears
- Store hard, unripe pears in a paper bag or covered fruit bowl at room temperature. Check daily for ripeness.
- You can also refrigerate unripe pears until you are ready to ripen them; then keep at room temperature.
- You cannot test ripeness by color because some varieties will not change color after picking
- To check for ripeness of a pear, gently press the stem end of the pear with your thumb.
- To keep ripe pears longer, refrigerate them 3 to 5 days after ripening.
How to Cook Pears
- If eating whole, simply wash pears.
- Wash, peel and cut pears for salads and desserts and when serving them sliced. Use a small sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove the thin skin.
- To halve pears, cut in half lengthwise and remove the core with a small knife.
- If you want to poach pears or stuff whole pears, use a melon baller to remove the core from the bottom of the pear, leaving the pear intact.
- Brush sliced pears that will not be immediately eaten with a little lemon juice to prevent browning.
- A medium pear will give you about 1 cup of slices.
Pear Nutrition Highlights
Pears are delicious and healthy. With only a slim 100 calories each and low on the glycemic index (meaning the carbs in pears convert slowly to sugar), pears provide a good “sweet” choice for those watching their calorie intake.
- A medium pear (about the size of an adult fist) is a good source of dietary fiber, providing 16% of the recommended daily allowance.
- Pears are a good source of Vitamin C. This antioxidant promotes healing, boosts the immune system and reduces free radical damage.
- Pears are a good source of potassium, an important mineral in heart health and nerve and muscle function.