Pears and Cheese Pairings

Pears and cheese are a match made in cheeseboard heaven. The combination of textures and flavors work perfectly in a number of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and desserts. However, there’s such a wide variety of cheeses available in stores these days that finding the best pears and cheese pairings and deciding which ones to use may feel a bit overwhelming. The good news is this: almost all cheeses pair well with all varieties of Stemilt pears. However, some pairings are better than others and will do more to enhance the flavors all around. So let’s narrow things down a bit!

Bartlett

Bartlett pears have a class flavor and fragrance. They’re sweet and juicy, with a buttery texture. These pair well with a wide range of cheeses, but here are a few of my top picks:

  • Chèvre goat cheese
  • Mascarpone cheese (with it’s neutral flavor, this places all of the focus on the pear while adding a rich texture)
  • Feta (the type that comes packed in a brine)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Pecorino Romano

D’Anjou & Red D’Anjou

D’Anjou pears are juicy, with a sweet and brisk lemony citrus flavor and a hint of spice. You’ll also find them labeled as winter pears, Danjou pears, and Anjou pears. These work best with cheeses that won’t overpower their flavor. Red d’Anjou pears have essentially the same flavor profile and can be paired with the same cheeses. Here are a few options to consider for pairing:

  • Brie (try Camembert if you don’t mind a stinky cheese)
  • Smoked or aged gouda cheese
  • Chèvre goat cheese (especially younger ones, which are milder in flavor)
  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Mild cheddar

Comice

Comice pears are sweet and succulent, with a soft flesh and a silky finish. They’re one of the sweetest and juiciest varieties, and while the flavor is relatively mild, it pairs wonderfully with a wide range of cheeses. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Gorgonzola or Stilton
  • Manchego
  • Brie or Camembert
  • Aged cheddar

Bosc

Bosc pears are beautiful; they have a crisp, dense, slightly grainy texture, a sweet flavor, and subtle hints of fall spices. Their long neck and distinct coloring makes them a top choice for desserts (such as poached pears), and they work with a wide variety of cheeses. They’re most commonly paired with blue cheese, which is an excellent choice. Here are my top picks:

  • Roquefort or Stilton
  • Manchego
  • Aged gouda
  • Aged cheddar
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano

Additional Tips:

  • Your local cheesemonger will likely be full of useful suggestions, especially when it comes to the subtle differences between certain varieties and brands. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
  • Why not make it a trio? Pears and cheese also pair well with wine. Different pear and cheese combinations might favor specific wines, but safe bets will almost always be sauvignon blanc, a dry riesling, or Brut Champagne.
  • Marcona almonds or toasted walnuts are a great way to add extra crunch to pears and cheese. So are crackers and/or crostini.
  • Make sure your pears have properly ripened before using. To check if a pear is ripe, hold it in your hand and gently press the neck of the pear using your thumb. If the skin gives to that pressure even slightly, it’s ripe. If the pears are hard and you want to speed up the ripening process, you can place them in a bag on the counter. Any bag will work, but brown paper bags are preferred over plastic because it will allow the fruit to breathe.


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