From green pears to red pears to white pears, we’re covering all things pears in this in-depth guide to 29 types of pears from A to Z!
Pears are grown and eaten around the world, and there may be as many as 3,000 different types of pear in existence. Many of these are pretty rare, only locally grown, while others are just minor variations of others. We are looking at some of the world’s most popular pears, and a few oddballs, along with recommendations for how to use them!
For which nation is the humble pear the national fruit? Find the answer at the bottom of this post!
- South Korea
These are short and squatty pears that originated in Belgium but are named after the Anjou region of France. They came to America around 1840, and have been popular since.
Today the Anjou pear is the #2 most eaten pear in the USA. They are commonly eaten raw but are really an all-purpose pear that is great in salads or in any recipe calling for pears. There are two sub-varieties:
Green Anjou: These are green and fairly round. They are the pear brought to the US in the 1840s.
Red Anjou: These red pears are similar to their green brethren though generally a bit sweeter. They were discovered in Medford Oregon in the 1950s as a naturally occurring cultivar. Their red color is ideal for use in fruit salads where the sweet taste and contrasting color are a good fit.
The Asian Pear is a particularly sweet pear variant shaped more like an apple than a pear. They were brought to America by Chinese immigrants in the mid-19th Century. Asian pears are a great source of dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, and are, like other Pears, quite healthy.
They are great eaten raw or on fruit or veggie salads. The Asian pear is the national fruit of South Korea, and the #4 most eaten pear in the USA.
Aurora Pears are known for a wrinkled skin, but crisp texture, sweet flavor, and smooth juicy flesh. They are a good dessert pear developed in Geneva NY in 1964 for that purpose. They are a cross between the Bartlett and Marguerite Marillat Pears.
Bae Pears or Korean Pears are native to Korea, China, and Japan. They are larger pears with a slightly rounder shape than other pears and a brown, green, or yellow skin and white flesh. They are known to be very juicy due to their high water content, but can also vary in taste from sweet to mildly tart.
Baldwin pears are native to Europe and East Asia, but are today grown in the Eastern United States from Florida all the way north to Maine and as far west as Texas. They are a light yellow pear with a sweet pulp. The Baldwin is a favorite with home gardeners, and is sold by many nurseries.
Barlett pears are also known as Williams Pears and are the #1 most eaten pear in the USA. They originated in England around 1770. The variety was bought by a nurseryman named Williams who gave them his name. The trees came to America in 1799 and grew on a farm in Roxbury Mass until the estate was bought by a Mr. Enoch Bartlett.
These pears are now the most commonly grown pear outside Asia though Anjou and Bosc are cutting into this lead as they are more cold resistant and thus present more commercial growing opportunities. Bartlett pears are often grown to be commercially canned, but are of course, also great eaten raw or in your own cooking.
Green Bartlett: These are very sweet and buttery when ripe. They are great raw or with cheese. This is also a very common variety in commercial canning.
Red Bartlett: These are the same as other Bartlett pears except for their red skins which become dark red as the fruit ripens and sweetens. Like other pears, they ripen best at room temperature.
Yellow Bartlett: The Yellow Bartlett’s skin changes from green to yellow as they ripen. The yellow pears can be used interchangeably with the other colors. The advantage of the different color varieties is in presentation. Cut up one of each color to put in your fruit salad or to top veggie salads.
Bosc pears were named after the director of France’s Paris botanical garden over 200 years ago, and were first planted in the USA around 1833. These are firm dense pears that hold up well when cooked, so they’re perfect for baking or poaching. They are ideal for use in Dutch Poached Pears.
Bosc have a unique cinnamon color and are noted for russeting on the skin. These are the brown patches, often at the top, that you can see on some pears and apples. It is harmless and does not affect the quality of your pears, so just ignore it. The Bosc pear is the #3 most eaten pear in the USA.
Black Worcester Pear
Black Worcester pears are an old oddity. They appear to have been brought to England by the Romans over 1,800 years ago. The pear grew for centuries around Worcester UK and was added to their coat of arms in 1575. This pear became important in the United Kingdom because it is cold hearty and preserves well, so it became a staple of medieval diets during the cold winters.
Today they are grown almost exclusively in home gardens and private orchards. They take a long time to ripen once picked making commercialization difficult due to the long storage requirements. They are hard dense pears used mostly for cooking.
Callery pears are native to China and Vietnam. They grow in the United States, but are seen as an invasive species. The pear’s seeds have traces of cyanide in them making these pears pretty much inedible. Nothing to see here folks. Moving on.
Chinese White Pear
Chinese White Pear are related to the Asian pear and are grown in Northern China. They have a lighter skin and are more elongated like other pears. These pears are noted for being sweet and juicy with a taste somewhat like apple and pear combined. You may be able to find these at an international market or local Asian market.
They can be used like most other pears of which there are around 3,000 varieties. Chinese white pears are a high fiber fruit that can be eaten in so many ways, raw, dried, candied, juiced, in wine, schnapps, etc. Check out our guide on Pears 101 and perhaps consider yet another way to enjoy pears in Autumn Pear Pizza with Gorgonzola and Thyme.
Comice pears are often considered the sweetest variety of pear. They were developed in France in the 1840s and brought to America in the 1870 by way of Oregon. The pulp of these pears is very juicy and sweet, but the skin is delicate and bruises easily presenting challenges to commercial growers. Don’t be put off by russetting or slight bruises to your comice pears. Just enjoy the taste. There are two sub varieties.
Green: Sweet and great eaten out of hand or perhaps on your fruit and cheese tray with a slice of brie.
Red: These pears are less common than the green variety and appeared as a natural change in the variety in the 1960s. The Red variant is also known as the Christmas Pear as it is so often used in Christmas fruit displays or gift baskets. Like the green, they are delicate and very juicy hence not ideal for poaching but great on a Cheese Board.
Concorde pears are noted for their long neck, bright green color, and hint of vanilla in their taste. They are a good all purpose pear that holds up well under heat making them great for baking like these Dutch Poached Pears.
Conference pears are medium-sized pears with an elongated shape (traditional pear look). It is similar in appearance to the Bosc pear as both are a cultivar of the European pear. It is just one of around 3,000 varieties grown around the world.
These pears are a high-fiber fruit that can be eaten in so many ways, raw, dried, candied, juiced, in wine, schnapps, etc. One of my favorite ways to enjoy pears in this Autumn Pear Pizza.
The Coscia pear is native to Tuscany Italy. It is a smaller pear with light-green smooth skin that turns yellow upon ripening. The flesh is granular and cream-white. They are most commonly eaten fresh, in jams, fruit salads, or in various desserts.
Also known as the Common Pear or Pyrus Communis (we spared you the technical name for all other varieties), they are native to Central and Eastern Europe. These are picked when the pears are mature, but not yet ripe because if left to ripen on the tree they generally fall off.
Commercially they are picked mature and shipped before ripening by keeping them refrigerated. If you haven’t had a good German pear kuchen, tart, or other dessert, find a local German bakery and see what they offer. You won’t be disappointed. Our Dutch Pear Tarts are inspired by such bakeries.
Forelle pears are native to the Northern German region of Saxony and are thought to be well over 400 years old. The name means “trout” in Germany which it got from its aesthetic red lenticels over a deep yellow skin. They look great in a fruit bowl or cut into fruit or vegetable salads. They are a sweet and juicy pear making them also great eaten out of hand. They hold up under heat, so they are also good for baking.
French Pear (French Butter Pear)
The French Pear is juicy with a creamy texture, and first appeared in France about 200 years ago. They are more delicate than other pears with a shorter shelf life, so commercialization is more difficult than with so many other varieties. They are often sold at local markets in both Europe and the United States, but are also used to make baby food.
Harrow Sweet Pear
Harrow Sweet pears are related to and very similar to Bartlett pears, so if you see these you can use them interchangeably. They are a popular home garden or small orchard variety.
Hood Pears are a sweet yellow-green pear that is similar to the Asian pear, so you can use them interchangeably. This is another variety popular with home growers. It grows well in warm climates, and is noted for being disease resistant which is a plus for the home gardener who may lack the expertise to control pests, fungus, etc.
Kieffer Pears are a cross between the Bartlett and Asian pears. We think that is a pretty good pedigree since these are two of America’s top four pears. It is a crispy yellow pear often used for canning or preserves, but there is no reason you can’t eat them raw, in fruit salad, or in your baking. This is another popular home grown variety as the trees grow quickly and produce a lot of fruit.
Passe Crassane Pear
Did you know that the pear is France’s national fruit? Given that, we thought it appropriate to include a distinctly French variety. It is a medium to large size fruit with a russeted yellow skin. They are noted for being crisp with a sweet-tart flavor, and were originally shipped to Germany and England as luxury fruits.
These were developed in 1845 in Rouen France, but a blight in the 1940s almost wiped them out. Sadly today there is little commercial growing of the Passe Crassane pear which is difficult to find outside of Europe.
The Pineapple pear is a large oblong pear that has a hint of pineapple flavor. They are more round than pear shape and have a green-mottled skin. They store well and are often used in canning or cooking.
The Seckel pear is a very sweet but very small pear. They appeared in Eastern Pennsylvania in the early 1800s, but whether they were created as a hybrid or a natural variant is unclear. They are usually valued mostly for their small size. They make a good snack for a kids lunch (vs them eating only part of a larger pear), can be canned whole, and fit well in small fruit arrangements.
Stark Crimson pears are named for their bright crimson color. They are also a juicy pear with a smooth texture. The combination of color and texture makes them great in fruit salads where their color stands out. They were discovered growing among green pears on a Missouri farm in the 1950s, and patented by the Stark Brothers Nursery in 1956. They became popular over time and are now often just sold as red pears.
Taylor’s Gold Pear
Sometimes just called the Gold Pear, this variety comes from New Zealand where they were found growing in 1986 and thought to be a hybrid cross between Bosc and Comice pears. In 1998 they were brought to the USA and cultivation began in Washington State.
Taylor’s Gold pears are nearly round with a russeted cinnamon gold skin. These are sweet and juicy pears excellent eaten fresh but also popular with many chefs who pair it with gorgonzola or blue cheese.
Singo pears are also known as Golden Pears, and are a type of Asian pear. They are larger than Asian pears, nearly round, sweet, crunchy, and juicy with a light-brown to yellow skin. Sounds like the ideal pear which is why they are commonly eaten out of hand.
Singo are native to China and Japan where they have grown for over 3000 years. The first documented appearance of Singo pears in the United States was recorded in 1820 when they were imported to Flushing, New York.
In the mid-1800’s Singo pears made their way to the west coast by way of Chinese and Japanese Immigrants relocating to California after the Gold Rush. Today Singo pears are grown not only throughout Asia but in Italy, Spain, Australia, France, Chile and New Zealand as well.
The Summercrisp pear is both sweet and crisp. It is a good charcuterie or cheese board option and is, of course, good eaten out of hand. They are another popular home grown option as the trees are extremely cold resistant and of modest size.
All pears are susceptible to disease, so some varieties are created specifically to be blight resistant. This was the origin of the sunrise pear which was released by the US Department of Agriculture in 2006 making it the “youngest” pear in our post. It was also bred to be aromatic, juicy, and sweet, so you can eat them raw or they are great in desserts.
Tosca Pears are a native to Italy and were named after the Tosca Opera written by Puccini. It has characteristics of both the Bartlett and Coscia pears. They hold up under the heat of baking, and are also good raw. An advantage of Tosca pears is that they are one of the earliest growing pears and are often available in mid-summer.
That wraps up our look at different types of pears. We hope you found this guide useful, and as always happy cooking!
This is somewhat of a trick questions! Both C and D are correct. France and South Korea have pears as their national fruit (the South Korean national fruit is specifically the Asian Pear).