Pick a ripe pear
This article was originally published in November 2013
Pears might bear a surface resemblance to apples, but in texture and juiciness, it’s more accurate to think of them as winter’s peaches. The ideal pear is lush, fragrant and absolutely dripping with sweet juice. They’re also a good source of potassium and vitamins C and K.
Pick your pear
Choose pears that are firm with no soft spots. Some varieties get a red blush on the side that faced the sun when they were on the tree — this doesn’t affect flavor, just their looks. Many varieties have delicate skin, but surface scratches aren’t a serious issue that will affect your eating experience.
Make it perfect
Pears don’t ripen until after they’ve been picked, and the process won’t begin if they’re kept cold, so store them at room temperature. They’re perfectly ripe once the neck gives softly to gentle pressure from your thumb. Eat them immediately or place them in the fridge to suspend their ripening process. Chilled and ripe, they’ll keep for nearly a week.
Types to try
The basic Bartlett is best when eaten fresh. Bosc has a honey-like flavor and dense texture that shines when cooked. Short, fat Comice is creamy; slice it into salad or have it fresh for dessert. Tiny Seckels have a short season early in the month and are a real treat in a lunchbox or when poached whole. Anjou is versatile, with an almost citrusy brightness to its flavor.
River Valley Organics
George and Apple Otte purchased their Okanogan Valley farm in 1997 and began the transition to organic growing methods the following year; PCC starting buying their fruit in 2000. Their relatively small orchard of just 18 acres produces absolutely luscious Bosc and Seckel pears. “It’s sort of a two-way thing,” says Apple. “We take care of the trees and they take care of us.”