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What are the Different Types of Pears?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are over 5,000 pear varieties grown throughout the world, and distinctions are usually made between Asian, European and American cultivars. Asian pears are round, crunchy, and sweet fruit, quite different from what many tend to mean when we think of this word. They are, however, gaining in popularity, although their season is quite limited.

In the US, the most commonly grown variety of pears is the Bartlett. In fact, it accounts for about 70% of the US market, and the majority are grown in California, Washington and Oregon. Many never see the stores and are quickly sold to large canning companies. In fact, Americans can more of this fruit than they eat fresh. In Europe, it's less common to can the fruit, and it is often eaten fresh for dessert. Its sweetness makes an excellent contrast to sharp cheese.

The Bartlett pear actually comes in green and red varieties. The fully ripe Bartlett may be somewhat yellow, but the Red Bartlett develops its color prior to being fully ripe. Similarly, the D’Anjou, often just called the Anjou, can be either red or yellow, or like an apple. It can have a red blush when fully ripe.

Bosc pears are very different in appearance. Their skin is brown and often has a slightly grainy texture, although the flesh is sweet and smooth. They make an excellent contrast because they have an elongated top half and are less round and squat than the Bartlett and Anjou. Boscs are quite popular and generally quite easy to find in grocery stores.

The Comice, in contrast to the Bosc, is quite large and one of the more round varieties. Alternately, the Seckels are tiny fruit that literally burst with sweetness. Many people also enjoy the Royal Pear, copyrighted by Harry and Davids, a specialty foods store. While this variety is an excellent and juicy fruit, many feel the price is prohibitive.

With so many varieties, it would be difficult to name them all. For example, Gloucestershire, England, alone grows and recognizes about 100 varieties. Most people have access to this fruit, especially during the autumn months, and they are even available during the winter months, when shipped from warm growing regions.

There is some confusion exists about when to eat pears that are purchased unripe. Usually, the fruit is picked before it has completely ripened, since if it allowed to ripen on the tree, its center becomes mushy and unpleasant. Generally, unripe pears can be placed in paper bags for a few days to a few weeks in order to promote ripening from the inside out. When the fruit yields to moderate pressure from the fingertips, it is ripe and ready to eat.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By bythewell — On Feb 21, 2013

I love pears so much. I love the fact that they are sort of grainy, like eating sweet sand. And poached pears are just scrumptious, particularly with custard.

I actually had no idea there were so many different varieties. It's a shame that people don't seem to want to eat a wide variety of fruit, so it can be difficult to find different kinds, because I'd really like to try them all.

By browncoat — On Feb 21, 2013

@minombre - I can see how that might work, because a pear is mostly fiber and water, so in theory it could help fill you up without packing in any calories and prevent you from eating too much during your meal.

On the other hand, many people eat more than they should because they are insulin resistant and eating a sweet fruit, like a pear, on an empty stomach could trigger insulin resistance since the sugar would go into the bloodstream too quickly. That would make them feel more hungry, and lead them to eat more than they otherwise might.

So, it's important for people to know their own bodies and what works for them.

By minombre — On Jul 15, 2008

Eating fruit high in fiber and low in calories has proven to speed up weight loss. So having a pear, or apple before a meal will help keep that waistline small.

By malena — On Jan 24, 2008

Other names for the Asian pear include Japanese pear, Chinese pear, Taiwanese pear, Nashi pear, Oriental pear, Sand pear, salad pear, and Korean pear. They are also called apple pears because of their shape and because they have a crisp texture similar to apples. Most Asian pears that I see in the market in the US tend to be light brown in color and have white spots, and they usually come in a white, styrofoam-like mesh material. But, I think there are other types of Asian pears with a different shape and coloring.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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