In 5,000 B.C., Feng Li, a Chinese diplomat, gave up his career when he became enamored with grafting and selling fruit trees, including pears. The fruit he cultivated, Pyrus communis, is said to be the mother of many varieties of pear grown throughout the world today. In the 1600s, early colonists brought the first pear trees to America. Today, U.S. pear orchards thrive in the temperate climates of Oregon and Washington. 

Types 

There are 10 varieties of pears from Oregon and Washington, featuring subtle flavor and texture variations. With overlapping seasons of availability, pears are in season nearly year-round. 

Anjou* 

refreshingly sweet and juicy, with a hint of citrus 

Red Anjou* 

aromatic, juicy, fresh and sweet 

Bartlett* 

signature pear flavor, with abundant juice 

Red Bartlett* 

juicy and sweet, with a floral essence 

Bosc* 

crisp and woodsy, with a honey sweetness 

Comice 

succulent, buttery and exceptionally sweet 

Concorde 

crunchy and earthy, with a hint of vanilla 

Forelle 

crisp, tangy, and refreshingly sweet 

Seckel 

bite-sized, crunchy and ultra sweet 

Starkrimson

aromatic, moist and sweet, with a floral essence 

*Most commonly available varieties 

Nutrition

A medium-sized pear (about 166 grams) contains only 100 calories and is sodium, cholesterol and fat-free. 

Pears are one of the leading fruit sources of fiber. A medium-sized pear packs 6 grams of fiber, which equals about 24 percent of the recommended daily value (DV). The skin contains the majority of the fiber, so enjoy the skin for added flavor, texture and nutrients. 

Pears are a good source of vitamin C. Each medium-sized pear contains approximately 7 mg, which is 10 percent of the DV. One medium-sized pear offers about 5 percent DV of potassium (190 mg).  

Pears also naturally contain phytonutrients and other antioxidants, a variety of which are found in the vibrantly colored skins of the different pear varieties. Choose a mix of colors for an added benefit.  

Which pears are best for cooking 

Firmer varieties such as Bosc, Anjou, and Concorde are best for poaching, baking, and grilling. If a recipe calls for a certain variety of pear, it’s best to use the variety suggested. 

It’s best not to freeze fresh pears because the juice and fibers will separate when thawing. Freezing cooked or processed pears with added sugar, such as a pear sauce or pear pie filling, will work. 

Pear care: Ripening 

Did you know that pears are one of the few fruits that do not ripen on the tree? They are harvested when mature and, if left at room temperature, slowly ripen from the inside out. 

Leave firm, unripe pears at room temperature so they can ripen. To check for ripeness, apply gentle pressure to the neck, or stem end, of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, then it’s ripe and ready to eat. Once the pear is ripe, it can be refrigerated to slow the ripening process and saved for use up to five days later. 

TIP: For speedy ripening, place underripe pears in a fruit bowl at room temperature near other ripening fruit like bananas, which naturally give off ethylene that accelerates the ripening process. And if you find yourself with a few too many overripe pears, blend them into smoothies, soups, sauces, and purees. 

Try these pear recipes: