The pear is a hard fruit belonging to the genus pyrus. It is native to the temperate regions of Europe and Asia but is now also grown in Australia and the Americas.
There are thousands of varieties most of which, particularly the fine cultivated, dessert pears, have descended from the common pear, pyrus communis. Another species, the snow pear, pyrus nivalis, is grown solely for making PERRY or pear cider.
In shape, pears may be the traditional pear-shape, elongated or top-shaped. In colour, they vary from pale green to deep yellow, from russet to red and often the skins are dotted or marked with a flush. The skin of some varieties is fine and edible and in others coarse and rough. The flesh is gritty although in some of the finer dessert varieties the grittiness is barely noticeable and the flesh is soft and smooth.
The best-known dessert variety is the Williams pear. Conference pears are very widely grown commercially and are versatile enough to be eaten uncooked or cooked in flans, pies arid compotes. The dessert pears of Europe include the fabulous
Doyenne du Cornice and the well-flavoured Beurre Hardy.
Pears do not keep very well-their storage time is therefore short and they tend to be expensive. Pears are also available bottled, canned and dried.
To poach pears, peel, halve and core
1 ½ pounds of firm pears. Make a syrup by dissolving
4 ounces of sugar in
10 fluid ounces of water over low heat. When the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to moderate and bring the syrup to the boil. Boil the syrup for
3 minutes. Add the pears and reduce the heat to low. Cook them for
15 minutes or until they are soft but not pulpy. Allow the pears to cool in the syrup before serving.