Popular Varieties: Conference, Comice, Packham
Store At: Room temperature
Comes From: Any temperate zones, including Europe and North America.
Seasonality: August to November, but all year round
One clear difference between apples and pears is the fact that some pear varieties are parthenocarpic, that is they can fruit without being pollinated, whereas apples typically need at least one other variety as a fruiting partner.
Pears are botanically very similar to apples, in terms of the tree itself, and the structure of the fruit. One difference is the presence of "grit" cells in the flesh, which help give pears their distinctive taste and flavour. Like apples, the skin colour varies from green through to red, and can be russeted or not. The fruit vary in size from less than 2 to 3 inches in diameter, and the general shape, tapering towards the stem, can vary greatly, with some varieties almost round in shape.
Over a thousand varieties exist and they are easily crossbred, but to get a variety to come true it must be grafted rather than grown from seed. As with apples, different rootstocks control the size of the tree.
Pears bought in the supermarket are rarely ripe; commercial growers pick their pears when the sugar content is at the optimum level, because when pears are truly ripe off the tree they are very soft and extremely perishable. Pears should be ripened at room temperature; a soft stem end indicates optimum ripeness.
Pears are a good source of dietary fibre (4 grams in a medium sized pear), and a good source of Vitamin C. They contain no saturated fat, salt or cholesterol, with a medium sized pear containing about 100 calories.
Like apples, pears originate from Europe and Asia, also around the same time as apples, several thousand years ago. By the time of the Romans there were around 40 recorded varieties; by the dark ages this had risen to around 200, again rising to more than 700 by 1840. By 1860, over 850 varieties had been catalogued. The large number of varieties ranged from poor cooking pears to fine dessert pears, and was largely the work of intensive breeding in Belgium and France in the late 18th century, although many of the good quality eating varieties were not developed until the 18th and 19th centuries.
The best use for pears is eating them out of hand, for which there isn't really much preparation advice! Like apples, once cut, pears brown (oxidise) when exposed to the air. Pears have much smaller seeds and a much softer core than apples and therefore more can be eaten. One common serving companion is cheese, particularly for one of the finest pears, Comice du Moyen.
Pears can also be baked; this is particularly good for unripe pears, since they will hold their structure better; they can also be poached or cooked, made into liqueurs, vinegar, juice, jam and jelly. Fermented pear juice is called Perry.
Pear wood is highly valued in the production of high-quality woodwind instruments.
Make sure you have plenty of space to grow pears; standard pear trees grow up to 9m (30ft) with trunks 30cm (12 inches) or more in diameter. Pears grow better with fruiting companions; they require cross-pollination from another variety to produce a large crop, although some varieties may be self-fruiting but will produce much smaller crops. Some varieties are pollen-sterile, so three varieties must be planted to get good fruiting on all three.
Serving Size:100g raw
|Calories: 58, Calories from Fat: 1|
|% Daily Value *|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
| Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 15g||5%|
| Dietary Fibre 3g||12%|
Vit A: 0% , Vit C: 7% , Vit D: 0% , Vit K: 0%
Iron: 1% , Calcium: 1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.