The Best Pears for Cooking, Baking, and Eating Out of Hand
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 buy them ahead of time. 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.
Now, here's our pear primer, which breaks down different types of pears and pairs them with their best cooking and baking methods.
Popular Pears and Top-Rated Pear Recipes
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.
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.
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.
Other Types of 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.
Comice pears are the sweetest, most aromatic of all the commonly available varieties. Developed in France, Comice are large, round fruits. They are yellow-green or yellow with a red blush. Because of their juicy, melt-in-the-mouth texture and delicate fragrance, Comice pears are best enjoyed raw.
Forelle and Seckel pears
These miniature varieties are early ripeners, appearing in specialty markets and farmers' markets at the end of August. They are popular in fruit bowls and as decorations because of their size and coloration--especially the Forelle, with its distinctive freckles. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and are exquisite as a garnish on wedding cakes with other late-summer and fall fruits such as lady apples, figs, and tiny clusters of grapes.
Poached pears are a classic fall and winter dessert.
Check out our complete collection of Pear Recipes -- including pear desserts, breads, salads, soups, pizza and more.