It seems like apples get all the glory this time of year, doesn't it? Don't get me wrong, I love me some apple pie and I can chug a whole lot of cider...but the unsung hero of Fall for me is pears. Like apples, they're a good source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and various antioxidants, and the flavors are similar, for sure. But, depending on the type, pears tend to be juicier and sweeter, with a subtly complex flavor. Most types become available starting in September, so now's the time to find them at farmer's markets or the supermarket. Here's a round-up of 20 pear recipes from Bon Appetit (including one for Cocoa-Cured Lamb Loin with Olive-Pear Relish...what?!). My husband loves them simply poached for dessert, but I'm having a craving for slicing one over a salad sprinkled with Gorgonzola.
Pears are unique because they ripen best off the tree, so they're often hard at the store, but you can ripen them at home by simply keeping them at room temperature until they soften a bit. The flesh turns brown when opened to the air, which you can limit by brushing them with or dipping them in lemon juice.
Boscs have a leathery yellow-brown skin and a creamy white flesh that's good for cooking and baking. The moody color and elegant shape look romantically Autumnal to me, great for a centerpiece.
Seckels are adorably small and chubby and exceptionally sweet. Their tiny size makes them great for snacks or as a garnish on a large platter of food. They're also small enough to jar whole, which would make a cute homemade gift.
Anjou pears are some of the most recognizable pears, and are perfect for just about any use. They're great cooking fruit, because they're available nearly year-round and the texture holds up well in heat.
Asian Pears have a texture more similar to apples, and a lighter sweetness than other pears - here's a recipe for Asian Pear Slaw that takes advantage of the extra crispiness.
Forelles are some of the smallest pears, which makes them not great for recipes but perfect for snacking. They're sweet, with a slightly thicker skin. And they're some of the prettiest, too.
Comice pears are some of the juiciest and sweetest. The skin is soft and the flesh is creamy. Their sweetness makes them a good match for cheeses. The skin is very fragile, which means it often shows bruises, which don't necessarily mean the flesh is bruised beneath.
Bartletts are the most common pears out there. They have the quintessential pear shape and are the type traditionally used in canned pears, so they're a good choice for preserving. Unlike other types, they slightly change color as they ripen, turning from green to yellow. They're some of the first pears available, starting in late August (to December or January).
(all photos, Jamie Grill Photography)