We’re pleased to be able to offer organically-grown European-type pears here at OtterBee’s Market! Valley Flora Farm in Langlois grows a couple of different varieties, which normally get harvested in succession:
Late August-September-Early October
- Strikingly beautiful large yellow pears with bright orange-red blush, “Rescue” Pears have delicious smooth, buttery, juicy and sweet flesh of excellent quality. The original tree was found by Knox Nomura, a nursery grower near Buckley, WA. He had seen the pear at fruit shows but the exhibitor never allowed anyone to take cuttings from his tree during his lifetime, and after his death the tree was scheduled for removal to expand an adjacent cemetery. Knox Nomura “rescued” scionwood from this original tree, and sent trees to Mount Vernon in 1975 for testing. Introduced in 1987.
- The “Orcas” Pear ripens at about the same time as “Rescue”, and the two can be interchangeable. Discovered by Joe Long, a farmer on Orcas Island, Washington, and sent to the Mount Vernon station in 1972 for testing. The trees are resistant to pear scab and are very productive: “Orcas” pear trees produce good crops of very large and attractive, carmine blushed, yellow pears with smooth, sweet, buttery flesh. Introduced in 1986.
- Moonglow Pears follow Rescue and Orcas. These pears are similar in look and flavor to the standard Bartlett Pear, with yellow-green, slightly blushed skin; the soft, juicy flesh is less “gritty” than a Bartlett, however, and has a sweet mild flavor. (Note: Moonglow Pears transition to yellow as they ripen, same as a Bartlett!)
- Bosc Pears are known as the baking pear: they maintain their form throughout the process, making them a resilient fruit to use for baking, broiling and poaching. Famous for their warm cinnamon color and long, tapered neck, their white flesh is dense, crisp and smooth. Once they are fully ripe, Bosc pears tend to be very sweet. One can tell when a Bosc pear is ripe when the skin at the stem becomes wrinkled.
- Green Anjou (pronounced ON-ju) pears are recognizable for their egg-shaped appearance and bright green skin color; they sometimes have a soft red blush as well. Like the Comice, the Anjou does not change color as it ripens; Green Anjous will remain green even when fully ripe. Many professional chefs choose the Anjou pear for their menus for their versatility in culinary uses. Green Anjou pears are great sliced fresh into salads, baked into pies, or pureed for sauces and beverages.
- Comice Pears have a buttery and very juicy texture, are highly aromatic, and have an exceptionally sweet, mellow, and earthy flavor. Also known as the Holiday Pear – because you normally start to see it right around the holidays – Comice is probably the sweetest and juiciest of the European pear varieties! Note: Comice do NOT change color as they ripen, so you can’t depend on that as an indicator or ripeness (see below). The skin of Comice are pretty tough, but that’s okay – most people just cut them in half and eat them with a spoon, throwing the “shell” away when they’re done…
Pears are typically harvested green and hard, then placed in a cooler for an extended “chill” period (up to two weeks for summer pears, and 3 to 4 weeks or better for winter pears). This chilling is necessary to bring the sugar up in most varieties of pears. For more information about pears, see “A History of Pears”.
Bringing your pears to room temperature on the counter is the standard way to ripen pears. Pears ripen from the inside out, so the rule of thumb is “check the neck” for ripeness daily, by applying gentle pressure to the neck, or stem end, of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, then it’s ripe and ready to eat. (If you wait for a pear to get soft all around, it’s probably also going to be rotten on the inside!) See “Pear ripening & handling how-to” for more info.