The secret to enjoying pears is knowing which pear to eat when. A pear eaten too early is an opportunity missed, as it has not yet had the chance to develop its full flavour and unique, buttery texture.
From harvest to consumption the quality of a pear is reliant on knowing when to act. If allowed to stay on the tree too long, the pear develops a gritty, coarse texture as it ripens. To avoid this, farmers pick their pears when mature (but not ripe) and then hold them in cold storage (a key step in achieving their unique character) before they hit the markets and begin to ripen naturally. As pears ripen from the inside it can be difficult to gauge when to indulge, but it is worth the wait.
Selection: Look for fairly firm, fragrant fruit that is unblemished. Press the point where the stem meets the neck and if it gives evenly without applying proper pressure – the pear will melt in your mouth.
Storage: Store firm, unripe fruit at room temperature until it changes to a ripe yellow and/or gives a little when pressed at the stem. Once ripe, keep in refrigerator and use quickly.
Preparation: Handle gently, pears bruise easily. Once cut, brush surfaces with citrus juice to prevent discolouration prior to serving
Available: Mar – Oct, best Apr – May
Appearance: med to large pear with an elongated neck, green-brown skin and a golden-brown russet that darkens as it ripens
Flesh: juicy, white flesh
Flavour: aromatic, sweet, buttery and juicy
Best use: great all-rounder. Suitable for most cooking methods and lovely fresh.
Available: April – end August
Appearance: squat with a bright, glossy pink-red blush on green – yellow base
Flesh: tender, soft white to creamy yellow flesh
Flavour: sweet and juicy
Best use: fresh – striking addition to salads. Sometimes smaller fruit is sold as baby corellas, these retain the unique flavour and are practical for salads and portion control
Available: Mar – Nov
Appearance: small – medium in size, squat, round pears with green, heavily russetted skin that yellows when ripe
Flesh: creamy white
Flavour: tender, sweet, buttery– very juicy and aromatic
Best use: very versatile- good cooked and fresh
Available: Apr –Aug
Appearance: medium sized fruit withlight-green soft skin and slight russet
Flesh: fine grained, creamy yellow-white
Flavour: rich, juicy and very sweet
Best use: excellent fresh eating variety
Available: Mar – Nov (best May – Aug)
Appearance: medium, round fruit with yellow-green slightly rough skin (can be flecked with white or brown depending on variety)
Flesh: creamy white, crisp and juicy flesh (like an apple)
Flavour: subtly sweet with medium sugar and high acid
Best use: its crisp texture makes it an interesting apple substitute for a variety of dishes (salads, cheese platters) or eaten fresh
Available: Mar – Dec (best- May-Jun)
Appearance: med – large green pear (turns golden yellow when ripe) with a short neck (skin can sometimes appear bumpy)
Flesh: white and slightly firm yet juicy
Flavour: juicy and sweet
Best use: great baked in desserts, poached or fresh
Red D’Anjou (aka Red Angou)
Available: Apr – Nov
Appearance: medium sized, deep red fruit with yellow-green mottling
Flesh: fine, white flesh
Best use: salads