Even the most novice fruit consumer could tell you that apples come in a variety of types, with different colors and flavors, but pears? Aren’t they all just, well, pears? Think again.
There are more than 3,000 different types of pears in the world. Here are just a few you’re most likely to find and what to use them for, whether you’re baking, throwing together a salad or just want a quick, healthy snack.
Green and Red Anjou
A sort of jack-of-all-pears, the Anjou (or d’Anjou) is sweet and juicy with a firm texture. Both the red and green varieties are good for snacking or cooking, but the red Anjou’s vibrant skin makes a great addition to salads.
Bartletts start off with a light green skin that turns golden yellow when ripe. They are the juiciest of these pear varieties, making for a satisfying and slightly messy snack. Because their creamy, sweet flesh also dissolves quickly and easily when heated, they’re an ideal choice for recipes like pear sauce.
The Bosc pear has a crisp texture and honey-sweet taste. Its golden-hued skin adds color when sliced into a salad, but the Bosc also holds its shape well when heated. Use it for poaching or for perfect pear-shaped slices in pear tarts.
Concordes are identified by their elongated, tapered necks and yellow-green skin. They have a firm, almost crunchy flesh noted for its subtle vanilla flavor. Concordes don’t brown quickly when sliced, making them a great choice for salads or a bowl of diced fruit.
The most adorable pear of all, the Seckel is one of the smallest pear varieties and is very sweet. In contrast to the Concorde, the Seckel is almost spherical (without the typical pear neck) and has dark green skin often marked with a contrasting red blush. It’s a perfect miniature snack, but can also be canned whole for an ambitious project.
Much like the red Anjous, Starkrimson pears have a vibrant red skin that can add a pop of color to a salad or make a great addition to a bland bowl of cereal. Best eaten fresh, they have a hint of a floral aroma with a slightly sweet flavor.
Tips to make the most of your pears:
- Let your pears ripen at room temperature instead of eating them straight from the farmers’ market or grocery store. Pears don’t ripen on the tree, so give them a little extra time to get the best flavor.
- You can tell your pear is ripe by pressing down gently on the neck. If it yields slightly, it’s ready to eat.
- To speed up the ripening pace, place your pears near other ripening fruit, such as bananas.
- If you have a few too many ripe pears on your counter, put them in the fridge to keep them from getting soft and overripe too quickly.