A Pear Primer

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.

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

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

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.

Roquefort Pear Salad

Roquefort Pear Salad | Photo by lutzflcat

Bartlett Pears

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.

Pear and Pomegranate Salad

Pear and Pomegranate Salad | Photo by Annafur

Bosc Pears

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.

Creamy Baked Pears

Creamy Baked Pears | Photo by lutzflcat

Other Types of Pears

Asian Pears

These fragrant pears are large and apple-shaped and juicy-sweet. Because Asian pears have a high water content and a texture that’s crunchy and slightly starchy, they’re not great for baking. They’re terrific in salads and smoothies, though.