Soft and sweet, tart and crunchy, mild and floral—there’s a pear variety to satisfy every palate. In fact, there’s a lot more to the humble pear than meets the eye, so it’s high time you got to know this tasty, fiber-packed fruit a bit better. Read on for the full scoop on all the most common types of pears. (Spoiler: Each one is worthy of a place in your fruit bowl.)
9 Types of Pears for Baking, Cooking and Snacking
These russet brown pears are not as sweet and juicy as some other types of pears, and they remain quite firm even when ripe. That said, ripe Bosc pears are delicious when eaten raw, and even more so when baked into a pie or tart, which is often where you’ll find them since Bosc pears are uniquely good at taking heat without losing their shape. You can find these guys year-round, but they’re at their best from September through the winter months.
Forelles can be identified by their small size, oval shape and smooth, freckled green and yellow skin, which develops patches of crimson red as the fruit begins to ripen. The flesh of the Forelle pear is very sweet, slightly firm and ideal for snacking on raw. In fact, their small size makes them a perfect fit for a lunch box, but not quite as practical for use in recipes. Forelles have a limited crop size as compared to other commercially grown pears, so make a point to score some when they’re in season from September until January.
Concordes are green in color with a long tapered neck and round bottom. Their dense and sweet flesh can be enjoyed at any stage of the ripening process, so feel free to bite into one before it feels soft. Excellent for cooking and snacking alike, crisp Concordes can be enjoyed solo, sliced up and added to a salad or baked into a dessert. Indeed, there’s really no wrong way to eat a Concorde pear, but we suggest you act fast when they appear in September, ‘cause these gems are typically sold out by December.
Sweet, highly aromatic and exceedingly juicy, Bartletts are a perennial favorite with loads of pear flavor. Bartlett pears come in both red and yellow varieties, but there is little difference in flavor between the two. One important thing to note is that the skin of both yellow and red Bartletts changes as the fruit ripens—going from green to golden yellow, or dark to bright red, respectively. This type of pear is excellent fresh as a standalone snack, cheese plate companion or salad mix-in; it’s also a very popular choice for canning and can be used to make tasty chutneys and preserves. Bartlett pears hit the produce aisle on the early side and enjoy a relatively long season that spans from August to February.
When ripe, the dense and sublimely juicy flesh of these round-bottomed beauties boasts a refreshing and subtly sweet flavor. There are red and green varieties of Anjou, both of which are widely available from early fall through the summer months. As for what to do with ‘em, Anjous are all-purpose pears that can be used in pretty much any culinary application: Baking, poaching, roasting, grilling—there’s nothing the Anjou can’t do. (Yes, they’re good fresh, too.) That said, it’s important to be aware that the color of Anjous is unaffected by the ripening process, so checking the neck for signs of tenderness is the best (i.e., only) way to tell if one is ready to use.
The Starkrimson is a delicate and fragrant pear, with a flavor that’s characterized by mild sweetness and subtle floral notes. The flesh of Starkrimsons is especially smooth and oh-so juicy…when the fruit is ripe, that is. Indeed, the Starkrimson is a pear that rewards patience: Flavor and mouthfeel improve considerably as the ripening process progresses. Fortunately, it’s not hard to tell when a Starkrimson has reached peak ripeness—its deep red skin will turn a bright crimson red when it’s ready to go. The subtle and complex Starkrimson is best enjoyed fresh (from August through November) and makes a particularly elegant addition to charcuterie and cheese platters, salads and more.
Seckels are petite pears with smooth olive green skin that often begins to blush as they ripen. These plump, bite-sized morsels have a pleasant crunch and a supremely sweet flavor. In season from September through February, the Seckel pear is a crispy and satisfying snacking pear, and a lunch box favorite among kids to boot. Fans of the Seckel pear might also consider canning these cuties whole for future enjoyment.
Round and squat, with a barely-there neck—this type of pear does not have a particularly pear-shaped body; however, as its physique suggests, the Comice is one seriously juicy piece of fruit. Comice have olive green, blushing skin (some varieties are nearly all red) and an interior that’s sweet, smooth and buttery. Pair Comice with a wedge of soft-ripening cheese for a swoon worthy snack.
9. Asian Pears
Forgive us for comparing apples and oranges (or pears, as it were), but the high water content and extra crunchy texture of the Asian pear definitely reminds us of the former. These golden-tan pears are large, round and juicy with a delightful texture that’s best-suited to raw snacking. In other words, the Asian pear is destined for a short trip from the palm of your hand to your mouth.