Would you believe that there are over 5,000 varieties of pear cultivated all throughout the world?
For a fruit we know only as green or yellow, that’s quite a lot of pears. The difference is usually made between American, Asian and European varieties. However, out of these 5000 or so varieties, only a dozen or so are commercially available.
Among the European pears, three of the most common varieties are Bartlett, Bosc and D’Anjou.
The Bartlett pear variety represents 75 percent of the pears sold commercially in the United States. They are grown in California, Oregon and Washington. They are often canned as fresh produce are immediately sold to canning companies.
In Europe, they grow in the wild because of chance seed mutations from wild pears in France. Canned pears are also not very common as they are usually eaten fresh.
The flesh of Bartlett pears are either red in color or green. However, they have a rather yellow tinge when fully ripe.
When eaten raw, Bartlett pears are very juicy and lose its shape easily. The briefest exposure to heat can melt this pear type, making it ideal for making pear sauce.
They are harvested from July through October.
Bosc pears have brownish skin with a slightly grainy texture. Their flesh, in contrast to the skin, is smooth, has a strong pear aroma, and taste very sweet.
They hold their classic pear shape even when cooked which is elongated on the upper part of the fruit. Bosc pears are widely available and can easily be found in your local green grocers.
This pear type is harvested from September through April.
Commonly called Anjou pears, this variety is either yellow green in color or red like an apple, especially when fully ripe. However, the color does not tell any difference in texture, flavor or sweetness.
They are juicy and sweet with a mild “pear” flavor. Anjou pears are great when cooked or when eaten raw. This pear type is harvested from October through May.
This cultivar is probably the best tasting of all pears. They are very sweet and juicy with a fuller “pear” flavor you won’t find in anywhere else.
Comice usually has mottled green skin, with a rotund body and a well-defined neck. However, some cultivars of this pear variety have a red blush on the fruit’s skin. Newer strains are even completely red in color.
Comice pears can grow to a very large size and because they are very pretty, they are often chosen as the fruit included in gift boxes. They are usually available from late fall through December.