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Best Pears - What Kind Of Pear Should I Buy?

Updated on November 6, 2009
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E. L. Danvers is a full-time professional writer and investigative journalist based in Southern California.

Fall is pear season, and what a season it can be!  Pears are the only fruit which is NEVER allowed to ripen on the tree.  Pears at the grocery store are (or should be!) unripe.  Take your pears home and leave them in a paper bag for a few days to let them ripen before eating.

To test a pear for ripeness, press the flesh of the pear near the stem.  When it yields slightly, the pear is ripe.  If the entire pear feels soft to the touch, it has over-ripened and should only be used in baking and cooking.

Anjou or D'Anjou Pears

This is the classic grocery store pear, which is frequently available year round, although to the detriment of the quality of the pear. Pears purchased out of season can often be mealy or tasteless, just like any other out of season produce.

Anjou pears come in two varieties - red and green. Both pears have a creamy flesh and taste the same, although the colors can be quite an attractive difference.

Seckel Pears

The Seckel pear is the smallest pear on the market, sometimes being as small as a golf ball!  Don't let its tiny size fool you, though - the Seckel pear is the sweetest variety, and its snappy crunch makes it a real favorite for eating out of hand.

Seckels are round and dark green, with a maroon blush.  Sometimes the maroon blush covers most of the pear, but usually it is only 30-50% of the pear's color.

Bosc Pears

Bosc pears are tall and narrow, with a shape often described as "elegant."  Despite their rather unappealing shade of "paper bag brown" when ripe, these pears are highly sought-after.

The pear of famous painters throughout the ages, Bosc pairs are a classic French dessert when paired with cheese like Brie, Camembert, or bleu cheeses. Bosc pears are also more firm than other varieties, which makes them an excellent choice for standing up to cooking, canning, or poaching.

Comice Pears

Comice pears are my personal favorite - not just because I happen to have a Comice pear tree on the property!  Comice pears are almost as sweet as Seckel pears, but they are slightly larger, and their flesh has a creamier texture.

Comice pears are on the small side, with a squat shape. Their coloring is a light yellow green with a rosy blush - the same general color scheme as a Seckel pear, but in much lighter hues.

Because Comice pears are so juicy and smooth, they are best eaten out of hand or sliced with a cheese accompaniment. They do not stand up well to cooking.

Bartlett Pears

The yellow Bartlett pear is the quintessential "pear," the pear most people think of when you say the word.  And with good reason!  Bartletts combine all the best qualities of the pear - not too juicy, not too dry, not too soft, not too crunchy.

Bartletts are traditionally used for canning, and most canned pears will be Bartletts. Bartletts stand up well to handling, and are an excellent choice for baking, broiling, poaching, roasting, and other cooking techniques.

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