poor digestion, and are valuable as general cleansers of thesystem. Their iodine content helps to keep the thyroid func-tioning properly and the metabolism balanced. Pears are anexcellent source of water-soluble fibers, including pectin. Infact, pears are actually higher in pectin than apples. Pectinreduces serum cholesterol and cleanses the body of environ-mental and radioactive toxins. The regular consumption of pears is believed to result in a pure complexion and shiny hair. Dried pears are a good energy producer in the winter-time as well as a delicious snack year-round.
are the most abundant wintervariety of pear. Originating in France or Belgium in thenineteenth century, they are a round, yellowish-greenpear that tapers bluntly to the stem end, with a thick,barely noticeable neck and no waistline. Belonging tothe bergamot group of pears, their skin remains greenbut develops a definite glow when ripe; they should beeaten only when they yield to gentle pressure. Althoughthe skin is not tough, it is not as sweet as the meat andhas a slightly grainy texture. The flesh is spicy-sweet and juicy with a firm texture. Anjous are a wonderfuldessert pear; their firm texture makes them the bestpear for cooking and baking, since they never seem tolose their shape. Available from October through May.
were first raised in 1770 in Berkshire, England,by a schoolmaster named John Stair. Arriving inLondon, this variety of pear was called
afterMr. Williams of Middlesex, who distributed them. In1798 or 1799, it was brought to the United States andplanted in Dorchester, Massachusetts, under the nameof
Williams’ Bon Chretien
. Enoch Bartlett acquired theestate in 1817 and, not knowing the true name of thepear, distributed it under his own name. In other partsof the world it is still known as Williams or Williams’Bon Chretien. The Bartlett is a true pyriform pear, witha definite waistline and a long stem; it is a large, golden-yellow summer pear, bell-shaped, with smooth, clearskin, often blushed with red. It has white, finely grainedflesh that is juicy and delicious. The yellow variety ripens very quickly once picked and bruises easily (evenloud noises are said to hurt them); they are best eaten while still flecked with green. The most common variety grown today, Bartletts comprise more than 65 percent of commercial production. They are excellent canners anddessert fruit but are too fragile for lunch bags and picnicbaskets. Available July through December.
are a member of the conical pearfamily and are long, tapered, and waistless. They aregenerally medium-sized, dark yellow, with rough brownskins and long, narrow necks. When properly ripened,they become a dark russet color and respond to gentlepressure. The meat is firm and almost crunchy, cream-colored, very juicy, and smooth-textured. The largerones usually have the best flavor and sweetness. Anexcellent pear for eating out of hand, the Bosc holds up well in lunch pails, picnic baskets, and fruit bowls; it isalso wonderful baked, broiled, poached, or preserved. Available from October through May.
pears are hardly ever shipped but are frequently available at roadside stands and farmer’s markets. Thegreen Clapp pear has a thinner skin than most, whilethe red Clapp has a heavier skin and a slightly firmertexture. Of medium size, they have very white flesh, ahigh sugar content, and plenty of juice.
Comice(Doyenne du Comice)
—meaning “best of theshow”) pears have the reputation of being the sweetestand most flavorful pears. They have a definite pyriformshape, with a short, wide stem end, a waistline, and avery wide blossom end. Somewhat squat and irregularly formed, they are heavily perfumed, with a heady,musky fragrance. Their color during peak ripeness is asoft green that glows with a golden aura and is some-times slightly bronzed or flecked. Similar in size to the Anjou, they are distinguished from their cousin by a redblush. Their skin is so thin and the flesh so wet thatanything more than a gentle stroke leaves a mark; theircreamy smooth flesh literally melts in the mouth. Best when eaten fresh, they are also delectable baked intodesserts. Available from October through January.
are mostly imported,although some are grown in California. Coming in pri-marily medium and large premium sizes, this pear has adefinite pear shape, but the wide bottom is irregular, with a deep blossom end. They also have a perfume thatadds to their exotic flavor. Very, very juicy and sweet, aPackham pear at its peak (just turning soft gold all over)begs to be taken home. Available from late June toSeptember.
are a development of Northwestern peargrowers and are fast becoming increasingly available.The red skin is heavier than the yellow variety, the pig-