• Same family as the apple, general structure is the same except that the shape is different.
  • A green/yellow fruit with a rounded base and a narrowing neck.
  • Russeting may occur on the skin (brown speckles).
  • The cuticle and waxy external layer of the skin are thin and the flesh may contain stone cells, which are groups of cells whose walls are greatly thickened with lignin and give the pear a gritty texture.

A deciduous tree belonging to the rose family along with apples.

Enjoy pears fresh or use in a vast array of desserts such as crumbles, strudels, and pies. Bake and serve with a caramel sauce, stew and use in compotes and sauces. Slice fresh and incorporate both in sweet and savoury salads or serve on a cheese platter.

Like apples, pears flourish in all temperate and cool climates, but as they flower earlier, spring frosts can be very damaging so that they require a cold rest period in winter for the buds to develop and open properly in the spring. As a result, they are not suited to mild winter climates.

Pears’ preferred soil type is well drained clay loam of good depth, that is moderately fertile. The pear tree is deep rooted, so shallow soils overlying an impenetrable subsoil are avoided.

Commercial varieties of pears are propagated by vegetative means so that new generations remain identical with the parent material. This is commercially achieved by budding or grafting the desired variety onto the chosen rootstock.

The wild ancestor of the cultivated pear is still to be found in Western Asia and Europe. Throughout the 3000 years of selection and cultivation the fruit has been improved from the small, almost inedible fruit of the wild trees of Europe and Asia to the large and delectable products of orchards today. There are now over 200 cultivated varieties around the world.

Pears were cultivated by the Greeks at the time of Homer, about 850 B.C. Centuries later, about 300 B.C., Roman conquerors carried pears with them to all the temperate parts of Europe and Northern Africa. Even in Roman times many types of pears were described, but the fruit was hard and only fit for cooking.

The melting quality, implied by the prefix “Beurre” (French for butter) in the names of many varieties, was introduced by cross pollination and selection by the Belgian priest Hardenpont and the physician Vans Mons in the 18th century.

Pear culture has become a well established science. By the Middle Ages, a Medici grand duke, Cosimo II, had 209 varieties served at his table at one time or another. In 1842, more than 700 varieties had been included in the collection of the Royal Horticultural Society in Great Britain. By 1866, 850 varieties were catalogued of these 683 originated in Europe.

Pears were first brought to Australia with the First Fleet in 1788 and during the last century commercial production was established in all states that had temperate climatic conditions.

Storage/Handling: 90 -100% relative humidity.

If pears are kept too long in cool storage they lose their capacity to ripen properly and characteristically fail to soften. They do not develop normal flavour and instead become fermented and unpleasant due to excessive production of acetaldehyde and alcohol. They may also develop a brown discolouration of the skin. Eventually they breakdown, the flesh becomes mushy and brown, the breakdown showing first around the core.

The best temperature for the ripening of pears is in the range of 16-21°C, both above and below these limits the fruit ripens with poorer quality.

The pear has a characteristic, distinct ripening phase during which it rapidly changes from a hard green fruit with little juice or flavour to a ripe, yellow, soft and luscious fruit full of juice and flavour.

Pears ripen best after a period of cool storage. In fact the Williams variety will not ripen properly if left on the tree and ripens with only poor quality unless it is held in cool storage for a short time.

Interesting Facts and Myths?

Pears have been cultivated for about 4,000 years, and are now grown in almost all temperate regions of the world.

There are more than 5,000 varieties of pears, not all of them are pear-shaped.

Botanical Name: Pyrus communis (Rosaceae)

Health Benefits

An excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of dietary fibre.

100g of pear yields the following:

  • Calories – 58
  • Total Carbs – 5% of DV
  • Protein –0.38g
  • Dietary Fibre – 12% of DV
  • Vitamin C – 7% of DV
  • Calcium – 1% of DV
  • Iron – 1% of DV

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Selecting tips

  • Select pears that are clean, uninjured by cuts or bruises, firm or fairly firm with a rich, full colour and do not appear wrinkled or misshapen. The fully ripe fruit is sweet and juicy with a buttery texture.
  • Pears should be handled gently at all times since they can bruise easily which hastens the process of over-ripening.
  • Pears should yield to gentle pressure around the stem and body if ripe.
  • When full ripeness is reached the pear just as rapidly becomes over-ripe, broken down and inedible. Pears are much more active physiologically than apples and deteriorate more rapidly at higher temperatures, so that prompt refrigeration is most important in maintaining maximum storage life and quality.

Storage tips

  • Pears (Greed skinned) store at room temperature for three-seven days to ripen.
  • When ripe, store in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to three days.

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