Pears: Fall's Other Fruit

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Photo by geishaboy500/Flickr CC


In fall, apples dominate as the season's fruit. The profusion of different varieties, the revival of heirloom varieties, the apple pies and other baked goods, the ciders made from different apples, and apple butters make the tasting of fall fruits wonderful.

But there is the other fall fruit--pears. While Asian Pears have become so accepted they can be found in many mainstream groceries, compared to apples there are fewer different kinds of pears--at least in the grocery and farmer's markets. Nevertheless, there are new pears are worth sampling.

Seckel pears are small, a little bigger than a golf ball and green-gray skin tone with reddish blushes. They are very aromatic and have a bit of the grainy texture in the skin. They have an appley flavor but are very sweet, sometimes called the sugar pear.

One of the great things is to find new varieties, and I found two new pears that I really like.

Bosc pears are large and green skins going to brown when ripening. If you like firm pears, these are the variety for you. They do have a gritty texture but can leave a slight film in the mouth.

Red Bartlett is a red to red-brown pear that is best when they give off a sweet aroma and are soft bordering on mushy. It is smooth not grainy but can leave a bit of a film in the mouth. When perfect is has a very sweet flavor.

Comice is a French pear. It is roundish, colored green with brown spots and the skin tends to be thick. These tend to be juicy and drippy. When ripe they are delicious and sweet.

One of the great things is to find new varieties, and I found two new pears that I really like.

We have all gotten used to so-called Asian pears. The typical big brown balls in the stores are the Korean pear. I was recently treated to a Japanese version called a Nataka. Much smaller with yellow-gold skins and small spots. The texture was clean more like that of a light apple. It was fantastic--much more flavorful than the usual Asian pear. Whereas the Korean pear tends to be dry, the Nataka is juicy.

My new favorite pear: Magness. This is a new pear to me. It is a cross between Seckel and Comice pears. Thus its size is bigger than Seckel but smaller than the baseball-sized Comice. Its texture is softer than the Bosc but not mushy. This is the pear for wine-lovers who like complexity. It has a sweet, lemony-citrus type flavor. The taste is long and lingers in the mouth.

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Ezekiel J. Emanuel is an oncologist, a bioethicist, and a vice provost of the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author or editor of 10 books, including Brothers Emanuel and Reinventing American Health Care.

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