General info about Fruit
The European Pear Pyrus communis is a species of pear native to central and eastern Europe and southwest Asia. The European Pear is one of the most important fruits of temperate regions, being the species from which most orchard pear cultivars grown in Europe, North America and Australia are developed.
The European pear is thought to be decended from two species of wild pear, categorized as P. pyraster and P. caucasica, which are interfertile with the domesticated species. Archeological evidence shows that pears “were collected from the wild long before their introduction into cultivation,” according to Zohary and Hopf. Although they point to finds of pears in sites in Neolithic and Bronze Age European sites, “reliable information on pear cultivatoin first appears in the works of the Greek and the Roman writers.” Theophrastus, Cato the Elder and Pliny the Elder all present information about the cultivation and grafting of pears.
Two other species of pear, the Nashi Pear Pyrus pyrifolia and the Chinese white pear [bai li], Pyrus x bretschneideri, are more widely used in eastern Asia.
European Pear trees are not quite as hardy as Apples, but nearly so. They do however require some winter chilling to produce fruit.
For best and most consistent quality, European Pears are picked when the fruit matures, but before they are ripe. Fruit allowed to ripen on the tree often drops before it can be picked and in any event will be hard to pick without bruising. They store (and ship) well in their mature but unripe state if kept cold and can be ripened later. Some varieties ripen only with exposure to cold.
Fermented pear juice is called perry. The place name Perry can indicate the historical presence of pear trees
Ways to prepare and serve the Fruit
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit of wild pears often remains very hard unless bletted. It is more suitable for use in pies etc. The fruit is up to 5cm long.
Health Benefits and Warnings of eating Fruit
Astringent; Febrifuge; Sedative.
The fruit is astringent, febrifuge and sedative.
Dye; Shelterbelt; Wood.
A yellow-tan dye is obtained from the leaves. Trees are sometimes used as part of a shelterbelt planting. Wood - heavy, tough, durable, fine grained, hard. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot. Used by cabinet and instrument makers. When covered with black varnish it is an excellent ebony substitute.
Selected European Pear cultivars
‘Ayres’ (United States)
‘Beurre d’Anjou’ (France)
‘Bosc’ (Northwest United States)
‘Conference’ (England, 1894)
‘Doyenne du Comice’ (France, 1849; widely regarded as the best pear of all; also known as ‘Comice’)
‘Dr Jules Guyot’
‘Glou Morceau’ (Belgium, 1750)
‘Gorham’ (United States)
‘Harrow Delight’ (Canada)
‘Joséphine de Malines’ (France)
‘Kieffer’ (United States)
‘Laxton’s Superb’ (England; no longer used due to high susceptibility to Fireblight)
‘Luscious’ (United States)
‘Merton Pride’ (England, 1941)
‘Orient’ (United States)
‘Packham’s Triumph’ (Australia, 1896)
‘Pineapple’ (United States)
‘Red Bartlett’ (United States)
‘Williams Bon Chrétien’ (England, 1770; also known as ‘Bartlett’)
Recipes made mainly with this Fruit
Pears are consumed fresh, canned, as juice, and occasionally dried. The juice can also be used in jellies and jams, usually in combination with other fruits or berries. Fermented pear juice is called perry.