Pear Country in the Pacific Northwest
The rich volcanic soils, long, warm days, and cool nights of the Pacific Northwest creates an ideal climate for growing pear trees. More than 800 grower families work year around in beautiful orchards. These orchards are nurtured by the rich soil of the Yakima or Rogue River Valley and are irrigated by the flowing waters of the snow-melt fed rivers of the Cascade Mountains.
There are ten varieties of USA Pears that are grown among the mountains, valleys, and rivers in Washington and Oregon. Each variety has its own distinctive color, flavor, and texture. With overlapping seasons of availability, USA Pears are in season nearly year-round.
“Oregon and Washington produce 87% of the nation’s fresh pear crop. Only pears grown in Oregon and Washington are sold under the USA Pears label.” – USA Pears
USA Pear Varieties at a Glance
The Bartlett is likely the best-known gem of the Pacific Northwest. It has a sweet flavor and a gorgeous bright yellow skin when ripe.
The tall and elegant, brown-skinned Bosc is a knockout with its crisp texture and honey sweetness.
A widely grown variety in the region is the Anjou pear, which is known for being sweet and juicy with a hint of citrus flavor. The Red Anjou is a stunner with it’s juicy texture and fresh, slightly tangy flavor.
There are also two other types of red pears that catch attention with their vibrant appearance. Starkrimson pears have bright crimson skin and an unforgettable floral essence. In season between August and December, Red Bartletts are super juicy and sweet.
Sometimes known as the crispest pear, the Comice is succulent and creamy. The Concorde is crunchy and sweet with a vanilla flavor. Small, but strong on sweetness, the bite-sized Seckel is a hit with kids. Last, but not least, the fun freckled Forelle is tangy and crisp.
All About Pear Ripening
Pears are one of the few fruits that do not ripen on the tree. The pear is harvested when it is mature, but not yet ripe, and, if left at room temperature, it slowly reaches a sweet and succulent maturity as it ripens from the inside out.
Bartlett, Red Bartlett, and Starkrimson pears change color as they ripen. Bartlett’s go from green to yellow, while the red pears ripen to a bright, rich red. However, most pears show little change in color as they ripen.
So, how do you know when the pear has ripened to sweet and juicy perfection?
A simple trick: To tell when a pear is ripe, simply check the neck. If it gives gentle pressure near the stem, it’s ripe, juicy, and sweet.
Hand-Picked: Grower Communities
Like the fruit itself and the landscapes on which the trees sit, the people who grow pears come from all kinds of backgrounds. Some growers were born to be fourth-generation farmers, while others stumbled into orchard life much later.
Pear growers of the Northwest bring their backgrounds in science, teaching, agriculture, and office work to the mission of producing better fruit, each contributing unique attributes and information to the collective goal of producing the world’s best pears.
The Perfect Pear Recipes – Savory and Sweet
Full of flavor and meant to impress, Pear Falafel and Walnuts can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side, or main dish. Made with ripe Anjou pears, this delightful recipe gives classic falafel a modern spin with the addition of sweet roasted USA Pears and hearty California Walnuts. Roasted pine nuts, orange lentils, raw tahini, fresh parsley, and Baharat belong to the list of flavorful ingredients.
Looking for a side dish that satisfies both your sweet and savory cravings? This simple side dish marries sweet Bosc and Anjou pears, onion and thyme with creamy brined halloumi cheese. The recipe by Amanda Paa (Heartbeet Kitchen) highlights the best of both worlds and proves how easy it is to combine USA Pears with salty flavors.
Pears can be grilled, poached, baked, roasted, blended, and more. However, it should not be forgotten that pears can also be enjoyed naturally fresh and juicy. Nutrient dense and refreshing, USA Pears are a great fruit to start the day with.
The Coconut Pear Chia Pudding recipe by May Zhu, MBA, RDN, LDN is made with red and green Anjou pears plus 5 additional pantry ingredients. Chia pudding is packed with good fats and fiber which makes it a great option for a satisfying and filling snack or breakfast.