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 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)
- 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 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
- Brie or Camembert
- Aged cheddar
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
- Aged gouda
- Aged cheddar
- 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.
How to Make a Cheeseboard with Cheese and Pears
While it can feel intimidating to create your own cheeseboard, it can be easy when you have the right materials! Using our pear and cheese combinations above, follow these simple steps to create your own magnificent cheese board (or take it a step further and create a charcuterie board by adding in some meats, crackers and other delicious items!).
Start with a Working Surface
Whatever that surface may be, start with a flat area that you can lay your fruits and cheeses on. Wood cutting boards or slate cheese boards are both great options. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, it just needs to be flat!
Choose the cheese!
It is important to have a variety of textures, flavors and shapes on your cheese board. Using our cheese suggestions from above, work in various types to make your board explode with flavor.
- Start out with a soft cheese, like Brie, Camembert, or goat cheese as they taste wonderful with a juicy d’Anjou pear. D’Anjou pears are sweet, with a citrusy flavor that leaves you feeling fresh and energized!
- Also include 1-2 semi-soft cheese options like Gouda or Manchego. Semi-soft cheese pair well with the sweet, fall-like flavor profile of the Bosc pear.
- Hard cheeses, like an aged cheddar, would make another great addition and pair well with several different pear varieties including d’Anjou, Bosc or the Comice variety. Comice can be hard to find in stores, but is an uber-sweet treat that has a silky finish.
- If you want to add in something different, cheese curds (which are usually a cheddar type) are a fun and tasty option. They pair best with Bosc pears.
- And don’t forget to include a blue cheese either, like a Gorgonzola or Stilton, as they taste wonderful with Concorde pears. Concorde pears are sweet, juicy and regal in flavor.
Add the Pears
After your pears have ripened and are easy to slice then it’s time to add them to the cheese board. Slice the pear length wise and lay them out among the cheese pairings. It is best to lay them near the cheese they pair best with in case flavors entwine.
How do you cut a pear? There are many ways, but for a cheeseboard, lengthwise is a great start as it offers the best presentation. First, cut the pear in half lengthwise to expose the middle of the pear. Using a melon baller (or even a spoon), scoop out the seeds of the pear. Using a melon baller or deep spoon will help clean out the core entirely without leaving any remaining seeds behind. After coring the fruit, flip the pear so the flat side is down and slice the fruit lengthwise thinly until the pear is fully sliced.
If you want to include other items along with the cheese and pears, here are a few other fun ideas:
- Meats like prosciutto, salami, summer sausage, or cured ham
- Crackers and breads like flaky crackers, toasted baguette slices and grain crackers
- Jams, jellies, and mustards
- Olives, nuts and pickled vegetables are a great way to add a pop of savory to your board
- Finish off with some beautiful garnishes like fresh herbs, edible flowers, or other fruits (like apples or berries!)
If you make your own cheese or charcuterie board, let us know how it goes in the comments below!