Not all pears have the quintessential curvy shape, but after one bite of those distinctively gritty stone cells you’ll know it’s not an apple.
Pears are also notoriously tricky to get at the right stage. Aside from the fact that they’re only in season for three months of the year (February to April), most varieties don’t show a colour change as they ripen, so you need to press lightly on the neck to check. The rule of thumb is that if it yields to gentle pressure, then it’s ready for eating.
But, as British comedian Eddie Izzard jokes, “They’re ripe for half an hour, and you’re never there. They’re like a rock or they’re mush. You put them in the bowl at home, and they sit there going: No. No. Don’t ripen yet; don’t ripen yet. Wait ‘til he goes out the room. Now ripen! Now now now!”
Raw pears, when perfectly ripe, are delicious and juicy. Slice them into salads with a strong blue cheese or simply eat them in big bites. You can also stew pears in spicy syrup, boil them up to make jams, or simmer in wine to make sweet desserts.
With a healthy dose of dietary fibre and vitamin C in their skins, pears are low in allergens, so are often recommended for allergy sufferers.
If you find them in that sweet spot between rock and mush, try these quick ideas: