Local Pears Keep Flavors Sweet Through the Holidays
Even as winter closes in, late-season fruits brighten the landscape of the farmer's market. Persimmons and pomegranates dot the stalls, but no fruit fits the holiday season like pears. Whether fresh or dried, European or Asian, or for baking, canning or eating out of hand, pears feature sweet, honeyed flavors that match beautifully with holiday spices. And with more than 2,000 types of pears grown worldwide, there is a pear for almost any occasion. Pears come into season in late summer and some will keep well into January and beyond. Here are a few still available at local farmers' markets:
- Go Apple Crazy at Local Farmers' Markets
Asian Pears: Asian pears are shaped more like apples and share the apple's crisp texture. Best for eating out of hand or in salads and slaws, most Asian pears ripen in late summer and early autumn, but Shinko pears store through the winter and are still available. Frog Hollow Farm has Shinko Pears at their Ferry Building CafĂ©, the Tuesday and Saturday Ferry Building farmers' market and the Castro farmer's market on Wednesdays.
European Pears: European pears feature the more recognizable "pear shape," sweeter flavors, and softer, juicier (less gritty) textures than most Asian pears. There are a range of European pears, but they are mostly classified as eating or baking / canning pears. Eating pears feature buttery texture and overtly sweet flavors with notes of honey, apple and butterscotch. Locally, Frog Hollow Farm has two eating pears available, the Warren and the Taylor's Gold. A favorite of chefs, the Warren is a classic eating pear with silky texture and sweet flavor that matches well with strong ingredients like cheeses. The Taylor's Gold is an all-around pear that matches the Warren for sweetness but is firm enough for baking or use in desserts.
But if you want to bake or preserve your pears, Boscs pears are still the standard and are one of America's most popular pear varieties. Boscs, with firm, white flesh and light, sweet flavors, are best poached, baked in tarts, made into spiced pear butter or dried for long-term storage. Frog Hollow Farm carries Bosc pears throughout the winter. And if you want Bosc pears all year round, Bella Viva Farms carries dried pear slices for snacking and dried diced pears for cooking. Bella Viva features both all-natural and fully CCOC organic dried pears, along with other dried fruits and nuts at Tuesday and Saturday Ferry Building farmers' markets.