A Pear Primer Article - Allrecipes.com
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How to Choose and Cook with Fresh Pears

Learn which pears are best eaten fresh and what types are good for cooking and baking.

When it comes to fall fruit, crisp-tart apples usually steal the spotlight, but it's time to give the sweet, seductive pear its due.

How to Pick a Pear

Pears are one of the few fruits that are actually much better when picked before they're ripe. If you need ripe pears for a specific occasion, it's best to plan ahead several days.

  • Buy firm pears at the grocery store and place them in a paper bag to ripen. Putting a banana or an apple in the bag will speed up the process.
  • Pears ripen from the inside out, so as soon as the stem end has a slight give to it when gently pressed, the fruit is ripe.

    Popular Pears


    Anjou pears are the most commonly found pear in the U.S., available in late October to mid-winter. Anjou pears are bell-shaped, with pale green skin that may develop a reddish blush. Anjou pears are delicious raw or cooked.

    Anjou pear


    Developed in England, Bartlett pears are large bell-shaped pears, like Anjous. They're yellow-green in color and may develop a red blush as they ripen. This is the most common variety for canning, and Bartletts are also sweet and juicy fresh or cooked. Red Bartletts taste the same as their yellow-green counterparts, but have a striking red skin.

    Bartlett pear


    Bosc pears have a distinctive, elegant shape: a long, slender neck and yellow-brown skin. They are the best pears for poaching, as they keep their shape when cooked. Boscs are sweet and tangy, delicious raw or cooked.

    Bosc pear


    Comice pears are the sweetest, most aromatic of all the commonly available varieties. Developed in France, Comice are large, round fruits. They are yellow-green or yellow with a red blush. Because of their juicy, melt-in-the-mouth texture and delicate fragrance, Comice pears are best enjoyed raw.

    Forelle and Seckel

    These miniature varieties are early ripeners, appearing in specialty markets and farmers' markets at the end of August. They are popular in fruit bowls and as decorations because of their size and coloration--especially the Forelle, with its distinctive freckles. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and are exquisite as a garnish on wedding cakes with other late-summer and fall fruits such as lady apples, figs, and tiny clusters of grapes.


    Poached Pears

    Poached pears are a classic fall and winter dessert.

    • Core the pear through the bottom using a melon baller, and leave the stem intact for an impressive presentation.
    • Peel them and put them in acidulated water (water with a squeeze of lemon juice) so they won't oxidize and turn brown.
    • Heat water, fruit juice or wine to just below the boiling point, and add flavorings like vanilla, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, orange or lemon zest, or honey.
    • When poached in red wine, Port or Madeira, pears take on a gorgeous crimson blush.
    • Serve them whole or sliced with pound cake or ice cream. "Poire Hélène" or "belle Hélène" is a famous dessert named for Helen of Troy: vanilla-poached pears served on vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.

    Aug. 12, 2009 8:11 pm
    can pears be frozen? I have 2 wonderful pear trees and can't possibly use them all!!! Peg
    Sep. 4, 2009 12:43 pm
    Is there a variety that's better for cooking? How
    Oct. 21, 2009 8:46 pm
    I don't know if pears can be frozen but I would imagine not unless they are cooked. We sometimes dehydrate them in our inexpensive round food ryer and they are superior to dried apples. Core them, slice about 1/4" thick, dip in a little unsweetened pinapple juice (the acid in the juice prevents the pears from browning), dry until leathery. Like candy!
    Oct. 22, 2009 7:21 am
    What a great article. I recently prepared poached pears, seasoning them with ginger, cinnamon & just a little sugar. My kids devoured them, which is saying a lot.
    Oct. 29, 2009 10:05 am
    I just received a case of Riviera Pears as a gift. This primer could not have come at a better time! Can't wait to try your recipes.
    Dec. 1, 2009 12:17 pm
    Yes pears can be frozen, and have a much better texture than their canned counterparts. Peel, cut in half, core and set them on a cookie sheet in the freezer till solid (no more than a day) and bag them.
    Aug. 28, 2010 10:28 am
    I adore cooked fruit recipes. I like my pears halved, cored and sprinkled with a bit of lemon juice to keep them from browning. I place them skin down on a baking sheet and I add crushed hazelnuts, nutmeg and brown sugar or maple syrup to the center . Using a pastry brush, I baste with melted butter and maple syrup and broil until golden. Take care not to overcook because the pear will soften too much and collapse on the plate.
    Sep. 10, 2010 9:47 am
    My boyfriend has a pear tree in his yard and he calls them Asian Pears. They are round and yellow, not too big. Is there another name for these pears?
    Sep. 17, 2010 7:10 pm
    I can 21 jars of pears (Bartlett) each season from our two pear trees, with many left over to eat fresh, bake with and share. Our kids love unsweetened canned pears. Nothing could be more simple than canning pears. A hot water bath for 15-20minutes and a healthy snack for the months ahead. Everyone should try canning their own pears. You would never go back to the store variety again. Smiles
    Sep. 20, 2010 7:30 am
    Home grown pears are sometimes misshapen, but just as tasty. I cut these up, freeze them in baggies and use them in smoothies.
    Nov. 3, 2010 5:37 am
    Any other way to freeze pears and after thawed, what kind of recipes to usr them in?
    Dec. 21, 2010 9:49 pm
    i need to know how to prepare this pear oven pancake, with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top with buttered rum glaze to top it. Any suggestions would be oooooh so thank full
    Oct. 14, 2011 7:25 pm
    I am looking for a pear preserve recipe from the south. I know the pears are peeled, put in a super clean porcelain dish pan, sprinkled with white sugar and left to turn brown. After that they are cooked, don't know how long, or what spices are used, then canned. They are better than any jelly or canned fruit I have tasted, but all my family that made them have died, and I never got the recipe. Any help out there? Thanks
    Oct. 18, 2011 9:53 pm
    I just got an old family recipe from my fiance's aunt down here in Lower Alabama. 12 c peeled and cut up pears. coat with 9 c white sugar. Let sit 5-6 hrs until pears start making their own juice. Simmer for 2-3 hrs until desired consistancy. Then can. Simple and very tasty.
    Jan. 13, 2012 9:36 pm
    You might look on an Amish website or recipebook, what you're describing sounds like pear butter. We got a jar in Holms County Ohio on vacation and it was heavenly.
    Apr. 19, 2012 4:17 am
    I love pears, but had never heard of a couple of these varieties. I will be trying a few of these recipes for certain!
    Apr. 19, 2012 4:20 am
    I love pears, but had never heard of a couple of these varieties. I will be trying a few of these recipes for certain!
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