Pears On The Menu

Chefs have long revered pears as an upscale seasonal fruit to grace fall, winter, and spring menus. With ten distinct varieties of USA Pears available, each with its own color, flavor, shape, and texture, it comes as no surprise that fresh pears continue to show growth on both independent and chain menus. The almost limitless versatility of fresh pears is illustrated as they are sliced onto pizza and sandwiches, diced into salads and oatmeal or muddled behind the bar. Pears have enjoyed a 21% increase in menu mention in the last decade, making appearances in entrees, salads, desserts and beverages.

Growing Regions

Approximately 88% of the nation’s fresh pears hail from the nearly 850 grower families in the Northwest states of Washington and Oregon. The region’s rich volcanic soil, abundant water, warm days and cool nights have allowed generations of pear growers to cultivate the world’s finest fruit in their pristine orchards. Fresh USA Pears are available nearly year-round, making it easier for foodservice operators, chefs and menu developers to add fresh pears to the menu.

USA Pears Varieties

Get to know and appreciate the subtle differences among pear varieties and discover how much versatility and flexibility pears offer. The leading varieties listed below comprise about 95% of the Northwest crop each season and are the most plentiful. Visit Foodservice.USAPears.org to dig deeper and see the 10 principal varieties grown in Washington and Oregon.

BARTLETT (BART-let)

The Bartlett pear is unique in that its skin color transforms from bright green to golden yellow as it ripens, and most other pears show little color change as they ripen. Its juicy, sweet, and aromatic flesh makes it perfect for adding to salads, sandwiches, or desserts.

Flavor Profile – quintessential sweet and musky pear flavor with abundant juice when fully ripe; when under-ripe, crunchy in texture and sweet-tart in flavor.

Applications – sliced fresh, grilled, juiced, pureed

In Season – August through February

ANJOU (ON-ju)

The green Anjou pear is easily recognized by its egg-like shape and brilliant skin that stays green even when fully ripe. With its moist, sweet, and dense flesh, this is an excellent all-purpose pear, perfect for any culinary application—sweet or savory, hot or cold.

Flavor Profile – refreshing, sweet, juicy, with a hint of citrus

Applications – sautéed, baked, roasted, poached, juiced, sliced fresh

In Season – October through July

RED ANJOU

Sweet and succulent when ripe, the Red Anjou pear has a refreshingly sweet flavor and moist texture similar to its green counterpart. An all-purpose pear, its gorgeous red skin adds a burst of color to salads, desserts, and main dishes.

Flavor Profile – juicy, fresh, sweet, and slightly tangy

Applications – sautéed, baked, roasted, poached, juiced, sliced fresh

In Season – October through June

BOSC (BAHsk)

The Bosc pear features a long, tapered neck, dramatic curved stem, and skin that is naturally russeted to a cinnamon brown color. Its dense, smooth flesh holds its shape and flavor especially well when heated. It is an excellent choice for high heat applications as well as for serving fresh.

Flavor Profile crisp, woodsy and honey-sweet

Applications baked, sautéed, braised, roasted, poached, sliced fresh

In Season September through May

 

Pear Ripening Technique

Pears are one of the few fruits that do not ripen on the tree. They are harvested by hand when they reach full maturity but before they are ripe. Pears will ripen after they are harvested.

Only the Bartlett and Starkrimson pears will significantly change color as they ripen. The Bartlett’s skin will transform from bright green to golden yellow, and Starkrimson changes from dark red to bright crimson red.

Other USA Pear varieties (Green and Red Anjou, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Forelle, and Seckel) do not dramatically change color as they ripen.

For these varieties, simply Check the Neck for Ripeness™!

  • Gently press the “neck,” or stem end, of the pear with your thumb.
  • If it yields to gentle pressure, then it is ripe, sweet, juicy and at its peak flavor and texture.
  • If it feels firm, simply store at room temperature and allow more time to ripen.
  • Once the pear is ripe, it can be refrigerated to slow the ripening process and reserved for use up to five days later.

 

Foodservice.USAPears.org

Visit the fresh pear website dedicated to foodservice and school professionals.  Find information about varieties,  handling and ripening, recipes, online training and more.