Bosc Pears (pronounced BAHsk) stand out in a crowd for many reasons. Their long, curved stem and elegant elongated neck that widens gradually to a full rounded base creates a silhouette that is unique among pears. Bosc are also unique for their color: a warm cinnamon brown with russeting over the surface of the skin.
Bosc pears have a more firm, dense flesh than other pear varieties, so they are ideal for use in baking, broiling or poaching. They retain their shape and texture better than other varieties, and their flavor is less likely to be overwhelmed by the use of strong spices like cinnamon, clove or nutmeg. Of course, they are also excellent for fresh eating, particularly by those who prefer a firm texture.
The Bartlett (pronounced BART-let) carries a true pyriform “pear shape:” a rounded bell on the bottom half of the fruit, then a definitive shoulder with a smaller neck or stem end. Bartletts are extremely aromatic pears, and have that definitive “pear flavor.” Often, the Bartletts found in grocery stores are green, and then they change to yellow as they ripen at home when left at room temperature.
Bartletts are much more than just a canning pear, and besides eating them fresh, you can also enjoy their wonderful flavor and smooth texture in a range of dishes. Try a sliced Bartlett atop a garden green salad with your favorite dressing. Or, simply serve freshly sliced Bartlett wedges with cheese for an appetizing snack. Always remember that any recipe calling for apples can be made using fresh pears.
Seckel Pears (pronounced SEK-el) are tiny pears, with a chubby, round body, small neck, and short stem. Their skin is usually olive green, but frequently exhibits a dark maroon blush that sometimes covers the entire surface of the pear.
Because of their petite size, Seckels can easily be overshadowed by the larger varieties. However, it’s their size which makes them a perfect choice for certain uses:
• Snack-sized Seckels added to lunch boxes or bags are appreciated, particularly by children who love their sweet flavor.
• Seckels are small enough to be canned whole. Jars of “baby-pear” Seckels are charming as gifts.
• As a plate garnish, a small half of a Seckel pear is as beautiful as it is tasty.