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Pear Varieties from Anjous to Seckels
Most North American pears are grown in Oregon and Washington, and the harvest months listed here reflect that. You can find some variety of pear in season in North America from August through May (and even into June some years). Your best bet for finding local pears is at farmers markets—ask the grower when you can expect the harvest and how long it might last.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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Anjou pears have a mild flavor and a firm texture, while still being sweet and juicy. Ripe Anjous will drip if you eat them out of hand, so be sure to have a napkin ready!
Anjous can be green or red (which are often labeled "Red Anjou"), but the color doesn't indicate any major flavor or texture difference, and they can be used interchangeably in recipes. Look for Anjous that feel heavy for their size, with bright, taut skins and relatively firm texture when lightly squeezed with the palm of your hand. Never pinch or poke pears with your fingers to test for ripeness, since it will in all likelihood bruise the fruit.
Anjous are great for eating out of hand or for cooking. Anjou pears are usually available October through May.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Red Anjou Pears
Red Anjou Pears are almost exactly like Green Anjou Pears, but they are the striking and glorious rusty red color. Reason enough to buy them since they make simply gorgeous table decorations, as well as delicious snacks.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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Asian pears are super crunchy, more like crisp apples than other pears. They look more like apples than pears, too. While there are many varieties of Asian pears, the ones most commonly available in the U.S. are a matte, tan color with a bit more texture and roughness to the skin than other apples or pears.
Asian pears are great for eating raw, especially when sliced or diced into salads. They have more of a crisp-apple texture than soft, grainy pear texture. They are so good raw that there is no real need to cook Asian pears, but if you have a glut of them, know that they work wonderfully in tarts and crisps, like this Asian Pear Crisp.
Look for Asian pears from August into winter.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Bartlett Pears / Williams Pears
Bartletts* are the juiciest pears when eaten raw. They can make a real mess but are so delicious when ripe and juicy, it's worth the drip marks on your shirt.
Since Barletts are so juicy, they lose their shape when cooked. If you want to make pear sauce or pear butter, Bartletts are the pears for you, as they turn to mush at the slightest mention of heat. Conversely, if you want to serve elegant poached pears or a pear tart with pretty slices showing, turn to another pear.
As with all fruit, look for Bartletts that feel heavy for their size. They will have some give if squeezed when ripe, but avoid checking them too much since they bruise easily.
Barlett pears are harvested July through October.
*Note: Bartlett pears are also known as Williams pears.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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Bosc pears are crisp when raw and hold their shape beautifully when cooked. They have the best example of the soft-yet-grainy texture classically associated with pears. Their brownish russet skin is easy to recognize, as is their classic pear shape, not to mention their heady pear aroma, especially when sniffed at the stem.
Ripe Bosc pears will have a bit of give as you hold them firmly in your hand. Avoid pressing down with your fingers into the pear to check for ripeness, since that can bruise the fruit. They will also smell beautifully of pears, so stick your nose down into the stem end and give it a solid sniff. If you don't smell a whole lot of pear, move along.
Use Bosc pears in any recipe calling for cooking pears in which you want the whole, halved, sliced, or chopped pear to hold its shape while cooking. Use them to make desserts like a pear tart. Bosc pears are also delicious raw, especially sliced into salads.
Look for Bosc pears starting into September and running through winter, with pears from some orchards going into April.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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Comice pears are perhaps the best pears for eating raw. They have a great fruity aroma and flavor, as well as a slightly finer, less grainy texture than other pear varieties. They are almost a cross between a Bosc pear and an Asian pear.
Comice pears are slightly more rounded and apple-shaped than other pears. Look for Comice pears that feel heavy for their size and test the fruit around the stem to see if the pear is ripe: it should be quite tender and smell as you would expect.
Comice pears are usually available September through February.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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Concorde pears have beautiful long, tapered necks. They are also a sort of ideal combination of Comice pears and Bosc pears. They are juicy, smooth, and don't brown too much when cut, so they're great eating pears like Comice pears, yet their dense flesh holds its shape when cooked like Bosc pears, so they work well as poached pears or in pear tarts.
Concorde pear season starts in the fall and runs through February. They can be eaten when just harvested when they are crisp and allowed to ripen further as they develop a softer texture and more mellow, vanilla-scented flavor.
Concorde pears can be completely green or develop a red or russet blush, which is a sign of sun exposure, not ripeness. To determine if they're ripe, look for Concorde pears that are just a tad soft right at the neck.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Forelle pears are an itsy bit bigger than Seckel pears, but not much. Like Seckels, they are an excellent snacking fruit because of their size.
Forelle pears are in season from October into February.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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French Butter Pears
French butter pears are great for cooking with and, as long as you let them get fully ripe, have a soft and rich texture for eating raw, too. They can be a pretty green color but some turn a more golden color when ripe. Like all pears, true ripeness can be told by the tenderness of the flesh around the stem more than from the color.
Look for French butter pears in the fall.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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Seckel pears are tiny—sometimes just a bite or two—with firm flesh. They are ideal for baking, canning, and poaching. Their firm texture and acidic taste make them a bit trickier for eating out of hand, especially if you're expecting the soft, sweet experience of a ripe Anjou or Bartlett pear.
Seckel pears are available from August into December.