You can enjoy the unique flavors of fresh-picked, homegrown fruit from small backyard trees.

By Marc Vassallo


Other Noteworthy Pears
'Clapp's Favorite' Light yellow skin, blushed red with russet flecks; sweet, spicy, fine-grained flesh; similar to 'Bartlett' in quality but similarly susceptible to fire blight.
Harvest time: Early

'Flemish Beauty' Excellent flavor and looks; once the leading commercial variety but now highly susceptible to fire blight; a great pear where blight isn't a problem. 
Harvest time: Midseason

'Flordahome' Tender green skin, fine eaten fresh; widely grown in Florida, as the name suggests, but can't handle the cold.
Harvest time: Midseason

'Nova' Large, round, melting, and juicy; can be eaten green or ripe; very hardy, a pear for the North.
Harvest time: Midseason

'Rescue' Elongated, with attractive orange and red stripes; creamy smooth flesh; resists pear scab; great for the Pacific Northwest where pear scab is prevalent.
Harvest time: Midseason

'Ure' A yellow pear for the North, from Canada; small, 'Seckel'-size fruit; tree drops fruit but it remains good on the ground for days; extremely hardy; 'Early Gold' is a similar variety.
Harvest time: Early

'Warren' Long-necked, with reddish blush; discovered in Mississippi; the standard pear for the South.
Harvest time: Midseason

Note: These varieties merit attention for flavor, looks, and/or their suitability to a specific climate.

Ripe and Ready
Pears ripen from the inside out. Left to ripen on the tree, they may become mushy. Off the tree, however, they ripen quite nicely. Most pears are ready to pick when the small flecks on the skin, called lenticels, turn from white to brown and are slightly indented. To get your pears ready to eat, use this plan from John Dunley, Ph.D., a researcher and pear lover in Washington State. Store pears in a cool, dry place, such as a basement. A few days before you want to eat them, put a few in a bowl with bananas, which emit ethylene, a ripening agent. Dr. Dunley covers the bowl with plastic wrap. The pears ripen in two to four days. "The pears ripen faster," Dr. Dunley says, "when I put the bananas on top of the pears—and the more bananas, the faster the pears ripen."