Pears have been recognized as one of the 20 most popular fruits by the FDA and it’s no wonder why! They are an excellent source of fiber and a good source of vitamin C for only 100 calories per serving. They are also sodium free, fat free, and cholesterol free. Pears, like apples are recognized as a lower glycemic fruit and help lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. They are also one of the few hypoallergenic fruits, so they make the perfect snack for playgroups or other social functions.
Pear season begins when Bartlett pears start arriving at the greenmarkets in late summer. They’re soon followed by Bosc and Comice which are in season in the fall through winter. The Anjou is known as a winter pear. Since there are many to choose from, which you buy will depend upon what you’re going to do with them.
While it’s always best to eat fruit when it’s truly in season, because New York gets produce from all over the world a pear may still be delicious despite being out of the local growing season. The only way to really tell is by buying one and tasting it.
Here are a few of the most popular varieties.
Comice — Many consider this the best eating pear with a smooth and sweet flesh.
Bartlett — The most common pear, this is a sweet and juicy fruit with a green skin that ripes to yellow, sometimes with a blush of red. Best for eating (this is the pear that’s used for canned pears).
Anjou — Sweet and juicy, these don’t change color when they ripen and are good for both cooking and eating.
Seckel — The smallest of the most common pears, their sweet, spicy flesh can be grainy. Good for cooking
Bosc — A winter pear with a yellow-brown matte skin and creamy white flesh that’s ideal for cooking and baking.
Tips For Buying & Storing
– Look at the pear. Avoid any with an unappealing skin or bruises.
-The green skin of Bartlett pears will yellow when they ripen, but most other types of pears do not change appearance when ripening.
-Unlike most fruit, pears are best picked unripe, and then left to ripen off the tree. So try to buy pears when they’re still hard, in advance of when you’ll want to eat or cook with them. Then leave the pears on a counter or in a bowl for several days to ripen. They’re sensitive to carbon dioxide so don’t store them in a plastic bag.
-If you want to poach pears but hadn’t planned ahead in time to let a pear ripen in your own kitchen, that’s okay because even if a pear is hard and unripe, the hot poaching liquid will soften them.