While apples may get all the attention this time of year, don’t overlook all the ways you can use pears this season. Throw them in a pear cake or a pear cobbler, or bake them halved in a sauce, topping them with granola or ice cream after they’ve gone all soft, gooey, and caramelized. (Is your mouth watering yet?)
However, before you head to the farmers market, orchard, or grocery store to pick up some pears for an impromptu baking project, think about what types of pears you need to buy. Just as is the case with apples, not all pears are the same. Certain varieties are best for certain uses.
If You Want a Pear That Keeps Its Shape…
If you’re baking pears for serving whole or halved with a sauce or topping, you want a pear that will keep its shape throughout the baking process, rather than just falling apart into a pile of mush. After baking, your pear should still look like a pear and you should need a fork to eat it.
Pears that hold their shape well include…
- Bosc pears
- Anjou pears
- Concorde pears
- French butter pears
- Seckel pears
- Forelle pears
If You Want a Pear That Falls Apart…
In some instances, though, you might actually want a pear that falls apart, particularly if you’re baking a dish that calls for a gooey, soft center or filling, such as a pear cobbler.
In these cases, look to…
- Bartlett pears
- Comice pears
Do note that Bartlett pears will break down easier in the oven, the riper they are, so take that into consideration before you begin baking.
Why Not Choose Both?
In some cases, it’s entirely suitable to use a mix of softer pears and pears that retain their shape well. For example, a pear pie might be a good choice for mixing these varieties, as you’ll get a nice contrast in textures.
A Few Tips for Baking with Pears
Whatever type of pear you end up baking, whatever recipe you use, there are a few tips that are relevant across the board.
- You don’t have to peel your pears before you bake them. It’s entirely up to personal preference, as pear peels are pretty soft and will soften along with the rest of the fruit. However, if you don’t prefer the texture, go ahead and peel them.
- Before you bake your pears, give them a squeeze and a good look. The riper and softer the pear feels beneath your thumb, the faster it will cook. If your pears are not on the ripe side, you may need to add more cooking time to your recipe.
- In general, if you have a recipe for apples, you can use pears in their place. Both work well with the same flavors and both have similar textures that can withstand similar cooking and baking methods.