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9 Different Types of Pears

Learn more about the different types of pears that can be found worldwide. See which types of pears are best for cooking and baking along with tips on how to select ripe pears when shopping.

A basket full of pears.

Pears are delicious fruits that can be eaten raw or used in a variety of dishes, sweet and savory.  But with over 3000 types of pears worldwide, it’s not easy to make the right choice when we’re out shopping and faced with an array of different kinds of pears.

Pears can be divided into two main types: European and Asian. Each type has a distinct color, texture, and flavor.  Some pears have a crisp texture, while others are soft and juicy. The tastes can range from very sweet to fairly tangy. All types of pears have the same nutritional value.

It’s helpful to know how to identify different types of pears so that we can choose pears that will suit both our tastes and what we intend to do with them. Are they for snacking, or do we need them for a dessert or a salad?  Which types of pears can be poached, and which can be used for sauces or chutney? Let’s find some answers.

Appearance and taste of various types of pears

A tray of fresh pears.

What are the differences in appearance and taste among some of the most commonly found types of pears?

  1. Bosc: Reddish-brown color. They have a speckled look with rougher patches of light brown over the skin. Crisp with a delicate sweet flavor.
  2. Comice: A broad, round shape and yellow-green skin color, often with a red marking on one side. A soft rather than a grainy texture
  3. Bartlett (“Williams Pears”): They can be red or green.  Very juicy and flavorful. Particularly soft
  4. Anjou:  Red or green color. Red Anjou has a reddish-brown color and a slightly more elongated shape than the green variety. Juicy texture, not overly sweet. Possibly a hint of lemon.
  5. Forelle: Small and oval-shaped, with a smooth skin that is spotted with yellow and green specks. As the skin ripens, the paler skin will turn a deep red, which signifies that the pear is ready to be eaten. Small and sweet – a tasty snack.
  6. Concorde: Bright green. A traditional pear shape, although their necks are considerably longer than other varieties. It will taste good even if the pear isn’t completely ripe because it’s juicy and particularly sweet during the ripening phase. A slight vanilla flav
  7. French butter: Green at first and become a golden color as they ripen. Sour and tough when raw, but their texture becomes creamy, juicy, and soft when they ripen. A slight lemon flavor.
  8. Seckel Tiny, able to fit in the palm of a hand. Great for snacking. Sometimes they have a slightly bitter taste which could take a while to adjust to.
  9. Asian: Rounder than other types of pears and look a lot like apples. The ones common in North America have a light brown skin that’s slightly rough. Crunchy, with a moderately sweet juice
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Which types of pears are best for cooking and baking?

Caramelized pear pie with fresh pears on the background.

In addition to pears being delicious raw, paired with cheese, or sliced and used in salads, they can also be used in a wide variety of roasted, cooked, and baked dishes. For example, they can be roasted with root vegetables or blended to make a soup or a smoothie. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger work well with pears in both food and drinks.

When cooking pears, you sometimes want ones that will keep their shape and hold together. The firm texture of most pears allows them to be poached, baked, or grilled. Bosc pears hold their shape very well. Asian, Anjou, and Concorde can also be used in many recipes as they have a firm texture. Seckel and Forelle are suitable for cooking and baking but take longer to peel and core as they are smaller than the other types.

On the other hand, the pear should fall apart when making dishes such as a buttery spread or chutney or preserves. French Butter pears are excellent for pear butter. Bartlett (Williams Pears) are also great for sauces or butters as their juiciness cooks down very quickly. Comice’s soft juicy flesh tends to break up when baked whole or used in pies, so they are best eaten raw.

Because pears are related to apples, if a recipe calls for apples, pears can usually be substituted.

How to select ripe pears when shopping

Woman selecting ripe pears in the supermarket.

The area surrounding the stem becomes slightly softer than the rest of the pear when it’s ripe. The pear should feel firm with a bit of “give” around the stem. Avoid pears with bruises or cuts.  Forelle pears turn a deep red color indicating they are ripe. French Butter pears will become a golden color as they ripen. Concorde is slightly different from others in that it’s juicy and particularly sweet during the ripening phase. So even if the Concorde isn’t completely ripe, the taste will still be good.

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How to store and ripen pears at home

Pears in a plastic container.

Pears will ripen after they’ve been picked from the tree. If you buy pears that are not fully ripe, keep them at room temperature, preferably in a brown bag with a few holes in it, until the area around the stem dents slightly when you press it lightly with your thumb.  It’s essential to monitor the process carefully because pears ripen quickly, and over-ripe pears have a grainy texture that’s not tasty. Once ripe, pears only last a few days at room temperature. If you want to extend their shelf life by three to five days, put them in the refrigerator.

It’s not a good idea to freeze pears because the fibers and juice separate when the fruit is thawed, which is not desirable.  However, pears that have been cooked or processed can be frozen.  So a pear sauce, for example, will freeze well.

Delicious pear dishes using different types of pears

If you’re looking for inspiration for new dishes to try, here are some suggestions.

Some healthy and tasty options:

Pear drinks such as Pear Champagne Cocktail and Pear Martini with Lemon and Rosemary  also worth trying.

Conclusion

The different types of pears found worldwide mean that these healthy, delicious fruits are available to all of us, enhancing our eating experiences and contributing to a wide array of sweet and savory dishes.

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References:

Verywell Fit: Pear Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

The Spruce Eats: Eating and Baking Pears: When to Use Which Pear

MasterClass: 10 Different Types of Pears: How to Pick Pears and Cook With Pear Varieties

Epicurious: 7 Types and Varieties of Pears, Plus Delicious Pear Recipes

Northern Nester: 10 Popular And Common Types Of Pears – Complete Guide 2022