Pears are among the most versatile fall and wintertime fruits, and that’s because of all the different types of pears we grow and the unique flavors and textures each one offers. There’s the classic, buttery, and sweet Bartlett pear that we all know and love to the more obscure and seasonal Concorde pear, and many types of pears in between! Each pear has its own unique story of how it came to be and a unique flavor profile to match it. In this post, I’m sharing a bit about the taste and background of the main types of pears we grow at Stemilt.
Bartlett Pears: Perhaps the most well-known pear variety, Bartlett is a green pear that once ripe, is yellow on the outside. Bartlett pears originated in England in 1765 and are known as the Williams pear variety in other parts of the world. They are among the first pears to be harvested in Washington State and come off the tree in August. Bartlett pears have a classic pear flavor with lots of juice and a smooth, buttery texture. Bartlett pears are great for fresh eating, and the preferred variety for canning pears.
Red Pears: There are three main types of pears that fall under the category of red pears, and each is characterized by its red skin. Red Bartlett and Red d’Anjou pears are bud sports, or natural mutations, of their green counterparts. In fact, Red d’Anjou pears were discovered in the early 1950s as a branch of red pears growing on a green D’Anjou pear tree in Medford, Oregon. These red pears are nearly identical in flavor, size, and texture to their green counterparts except for that color. Starkrimson is a pear discovery from Missouri that was patented by Stark Brothers Nursery in 1956. It’s now a well-known summer pear variety with a crimson red color and juicy, sweet flavor with floral undertones.
Bosc Pears: The bronze-colored Bosc pear has an elongated neck and sweet, juicy flavor with hints of fall spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s not clear how Bosc pears came to be but they have European heritage and today are grown in our beautiful Rushing Rivers pear locales. Bosc is an ideal pear for snacking, salads, and in baking and cooking as it maintains its shape under higher oven temperatures.
D’Anjou Pears: Green d’Anjou pears are a well-known winter pear variety, and the pear that we grow in the largest volumes here at Stemilt. D’Anjou pears are typically harvested in Washington State in September and October, but the variety can be found most months of the year thanks to its ability to store well. This pear is juicy with both a unique sweet and citrus-like flavor.
Concorde Pears: Concorde is a newer pear variety that comes from England and is a cross between the Conference and Comice pear varieties. It has a long, slender neck and tender texture with a sweet, juicy, and vanilla-like flavor. Concorde is considered a specialty dessert pear and is excellent for snacking, baking, and when paired with cheese. Look for Concorde pears in stores from September through March each year.
Asian Pears: This is a group of pear varieties that are often called Apple Pears because they can have a round shape, unique crisp texture and sweet, juicy, melon-like flavor. There are several varieties of Asian pears. We don’t grow many Asian pears at Stemilt today, but if you find some at your store, definitely grab them and slice them onto a green salad. They are one-of-a-kind and delicious!
Specialty Pears: There are several pears that I like to classify as specialty varieties because they are not widely available and have short seasons. Seckel pears, or sugar pears, are one of these varieties. These pears are small in size but have a very sweet flavor profile. Forelle is another specialty pear variety. Its name means “trout” in German and was given to the pear because of its rainbow-trout coloring. Forelle pears have a cinnamon-spice flavor that is enhanced when paired with cheese or tart foods. Finally, there is the Comice pear. Comice originated in France in the mid-1800’s and is one of the sweetest and juiciest pears available today. It’s small in size like Seckel and best used for fresh applications like salads and snacking.
Now that you’ve been acquainted with many of the types of pears we grow at Stemilt, we want to hear from you. Which of these pear varieties are your favorites and why? Share with us in the comments below!