Pears are a part of the pome group of fruiting trees, from the genus Pyrus which also includes apples. Around the globe there are thousands of varieties cultivated not only for consumption but for ornamental characteristics.
Growing predominantly in temperate climates, trees shed their leaves in winter then come into bud burst during the spring with harvesting commencing midsummer and into autumn.
Their softer flesh and juicy flavour is highly desirable, enjoyed while the harvest season is on. When ripe, fruit are quite soft and damage easily in transit, so to offer consumers the highest quality, most are picked unripe.
With so many types available, they come in different sizes, shapes and skin colours, but one of the main differing characteristics is the 'grainy' texture of the flesh. Distinctly there are those suitable for eating fresh, and those only for cooking which need many hours of stewing to soften the skin and flesh but impart sweet and sometimes sour flavours.
How to prepare
Give the pear a wash over and pat dry. The skin can be peeled off but is a valuable source of nutrients, vitamins and dietary fiber.
After peeling, the flesh can turn brown quite quickly which can be prevented by sprinkling with some lemon juice.
Simply cut into quarters, slice out the core and enjoy. Eat whole directly as you would an apple, or prepare whole or sliced for stewing, poaching, flans, tarts and of course salads!
Buyer's and storage guide
Look for fruit that are evenly coloured with little to no blemishes or spotting. Ripe fruit will give a little around the neck when pressed gently and have a slight aroma. Unripe fruit will be quite firm which is acceptable, you'll just have to wait a little longer to enjoy.
Store ripe pears in the refrigerator where they'll last for 2-3 days, whereas unripe fruit are best left to ripen in a fruit bowl at room temperature, usually 3-4 days until ready.