You’ve probably seen them slowly infiltrating your local farmers market: pears. All different types. Small and round; large and bell-shaped; greens, yellows and reds. Fall is pear season, and there are plenty of varieties to choose from. Use this guide to determine which kind to buy for your preferences and purposes.
Peak season: September through May
Also known as Beurre d’Anjou or just Anjou, these pears come in green and red varieties. They’re short and round without much of a neck, and are medium to large compared with other pears. Their thin skin and sweet, juicy taste make them a delicious snack.
Peak season: Late summer through early fall
The apple-shaped Asian pear doesn’t look much like your typical pear. Also known as the Japanese, Korean, Chinese or apple pear, the Asian pear is crunchy and firm when ripe, with skin that tastes a little gritty. Because of its texture and the fact that it’s not very juicy, it’s not really the type you just bite right into. We recommend using it in salads.
Peak season: August through January or February
The most popular pear in the United States, the Bartlett is sweet and juicy, with thin skin and a soft texture. These pears are usually yellow when ripe and are best for snacking and baking. (For baking, choose ones that aren’t quite ripe.)
Peak season: Late September through April or May
The Bosc pear’s warm brown color and curvy bell shape make it one of the most beautiful kinds of pears and a popular choice for still-life paintings. It’s crisp but tender, with a sweet-spiced flavor. It’s great when eaten out of hand, but it’s also a good choice for baking, broiling or poaching. Choose the ones early in the ripening process for the most flavor.
Peak season: September through February or March
If you’ve ever received a holiday fruit basket, there’s a good chance it contained a Comice pear. Sometimes known as the “Christmas pear,” it’s one of the best for eating raw thanks to its super-sweet flavor, soft flesh and juicy bite. The Comice is round with a short neck and usually green, sometimes with a red blush — though a red variety is becoming increasingly popular.
Peak season: October through March
The Forelle pear is one of the smallest varieties — a little larger than the Seckel — and is often hard to find due to limited production. They start out green with red lenticles, or freckles, and the green changes to bright yellow as they ripen. These bell-shaped pears are sweet and tangy and perfect for snacking, adding to salads or pairing with cheese.
Peak season: September and October
A cousin of the D’Anjou, the French butter pear starts out green and turns golden when ripe. It’s sweet with a hint of lemon, and can be eaten as a snack, though it’s best for cooking, canning and baking.
Peak season: September through February
Seckel pears are small with a round body and a small neck. They’re typically olive green, sometimes with a maroon blush, and have a sweet taste when ripe. Because of their size, they’re a great choice for kids’ lunch boxes and snacking, as well as pickling and using as a garnish.