Like apples, pears are a member of the rose family. They can be divided into two categories: European and Asian.
The former is what we typically think of as a pear: a smooth-skinned fruit with gentle bumps and curves in that typical bottom-heavy shape. Asian pears are uniform in colour (yellowish-tan) and shaped more like apples, with a completely different texture and taste. The most common Asian pear grown in New Zealand is the Nashi while the majority of our pears grown and eaten remain those from a European lineage.
Pears are harvested in New Zealand from around February through to April, meaning pears are at their best in autumn. In season, they are supplied air stored, then progress to being supplied from a controlled atmosphere. From August through to January, pears are imported from the US and Australia to supplement supply out of season.
Pears add a freshness to salads, complementing bitter leaves like roquette, watercress and endive. A classic combination being roquette, pear and Parmesan salad. Pears roasted with thyme or sage are a wonderful alternative to apple when served with pork; while a salty piece of prosciutto wrapped around a wedge of creamy, buttery pear is a simple but incredibly flavoursome addition to antipasto.
While often enjoyed fresh, their delicate flavour is enhanced when baked or poached. Both chocolate and toffee are perfect partners, as are other autumn fruits like feijoa, blackberries and nuts.
When thinking spice, a kiss of ginger is delicious as is the classic cinnamon or a pinch of nutmeg. As the weather gets cooler, customers start to think about desserts; a modern take on crumble with seasonal fruit, ginger and spices with a premium vanilla bean or caramel ice cream could be just the dessert special you need to keep your diners that little bit longer.
Doyenne du Comice
A large, super juicy pear with soft buttery flesh that melts
in the mouth, best eaten raw. They are harvested late February–March.
A fragrant, juicy, green pear with smooth flesh but not so soft that it will collapse when tossed gently in a salad. It also responds well to a quick sauté in browning butter on high heat. A reliable pear that ripens easily. They are harvested late February–March.
A great eating pear, with a golden-brown skin and soft buttery flesh. Sweet in flavour with a beautiful honey aroma. They are harvested mid-February through to mid-March.
Good for both eating and cooking, these small to medium pears have a green-yellow base that becomes more yellow when ripe. They are harvested March through April.
When ripe these pears are nicely soft and buttery, aromatic and sweet and juicy. They are harvested throughout March.
A versatile green pear not grown in New Zealand but imported from the US August through to January. Perfect in many dishes from fresh to baked or sliced to pureed.
Also known as the Chinese white pear, are crisp, juicy and slightly sweet with some tartness, especially near the core. They can be used in salads, slaws and sandwiches and are imported from the US August through January.