Lucky for us, each variety of pear has its own season, so you can find fresh pears nearly year-round.
There is something so sensuous about biting into a pear in its prime: first, the sweet juiciness; then the mild, but distinctive, sensation of texture. Enjoying the perfect pear requires patience; pears are one of the few fruits that don’t benefit from ripening on the tree. In fact, pears left unpicked tend to rot from the inside out. So pickers in prime pear-producing states are trained to identify when a fruit’s sugars are at their peak and time the harvest so that the fruits reach the market (or arrive by mail-order from companies) just as they achieve the perfect balance of sweetness and texture.
The pear is also a remarkably adaptable ingredient and easily moves between the realms of sweet and savory. Oven-roasted pears, for example, are a study in sweet simplicity. The easy preparation just requires baking and basting with a heady mixture of spices, honey and wine until the skin is delicately crinkled and the flesh—even when underripe—turns as soft as butter. The savory combination of winter squash and pear in Roasted Pear-Butternut Soup with Crumbled Stilton yields a velvety soup that owes its impressive depth of flavor to oven-roasting all the ingredients before pureeing them with vegetable stock.