For the non-Latin-speaking person, I am talking about the Asian Pear.
This piece of fruit comes wrapped in confusion.
Is it a real pear? Is it some different type of apple?
Does it ever get soft like a "regular pear"?
Today, we are here to answer all of your Asian pear questions (if I miss one leave a comment below) that you have or didn't know that you have.
What is an Asian Pear?
The Asian pear, the Korean pear, the Chinese pear, the Japanese pear, and so on are all the same fruit. The Asian pear name comes from the fruit being native to East Asia.
The name differentiates it from the pears (Bartlett, Bosc, d'Anjou, etc) that we are most used to. Those pears are native to Europe.
The Asian pears you find in the stores tend to be larger in size than European pears.
The skin of the Asian pear is different. The skin on these pears is unlike any other pear I have had. It's very thick and peels off easily. My wife said it was like lizard skin.
Why Do People Love Asian Pears?
The three reasons I think people love Asian pears are:
Sweet - Us humans like sweet things, and every Asian pear I have never disappointed in the sweetness department. The sweetness of these fruits shines through because they are low acid.
Juicy - What I like most about Asian pears is that they are juicy, which makes them great for eating.
Crisp - The rise of the Honeycrisp apple shows how we like crisp fruit. The Asian pear is meant to be eaten crisp and crunchy like an apple.
How to Eat an Asian Pear
You eat an Asian pear just like you would any apple and pear. Bite into the skin and eat around the core.
Or you can slice the pear up and enjoy it that way. There is really nothing different about how you go about eating them.
How to Tell When an Asian Pear is Ripe
Ripeness can be tricky with an Asian Pear. In other pear varieties you look for the pear to give just barely to gentle pressure at the stem. Or in some pears like the Bartlett you want the pear to turn from green to yellow.
The Asian pear does have something common with the Bartlett in that you are looking for the green color to disappear. The green color is more subtle with the Asian as it always appears brown in the store.
Choose Asian pears that do not have any green color in the skin. In my experience, the more vivid the brown color the better. There are several varieties of Asian pears including the 20th Century, Shinko, and the most common in stores, the Hoshui.
I haven't tried enough varieties yet to tell how much that skin color plays into flavor.
Why are Asian Pears So Expensive?
You might have noticed that Asian pears are more expensive than pears and most apples. Why is that?
I worked at an apple orchard one fall that also had some Asian pears. We were never allowed to pick them up, that was up to the owners alone.
For them, they were harder to harvest and they never had a sizable crop. These are the kinds of challenges that increase the markup on the fruit.
Often, Asian pears are sold by the each, and not by the pound.
Is There a Difference Between Asian Pears and Apple Pears?
No, they are the same thing. Apple Pears is just a marketing name that same brands chose to use because of the pear's apple-like crunch.
I personally don't like that name and always just call them Asian pears.
Can You Eat the Skin of an Asian Pear?
Absolutely. The skin is more like that of a Bosc pear or a Russet apple. If you don't like the skin you can peel them, much easier than you can other pears.
Can You Bake with Asian Pears?
I haven't tried baking with them before, so I had to do a little research to see if there were recipes out there.
My thought was that Asian pears are juicy, too juicy, making it hard to make a cobbler or pie with them.
There are recipes out there, people do it. I would prefer fruit that is more tart and not as juicy. I think the increased price point is a turn off to baking with them. But by all means give it a try if you want and let us know how it turned out.
When are Asian Pears in Season?
The fall time is when we will see the most Asian pears, a little later in the season than other pears and apples. They store well, so you can find them well into the winter.
There is also a crop from New Zealand that you may find in stores in the spring and summer months, but they will be a little harder to come by.
You may be able to find them in some stores year around, especially an Asian market.
Where to Find Asian Pears?
Pretty much all major grocery stores will carry Asian pears at least during the fall season. Costco carries Asian pears when they are in season.
You can also find them at select farmer's markets when in season. They aren't very common here in Michigan, as I have only seen one vendor ever sell them.
I have found them much more at farmer's markets in California. A couple of the pictures in this post are of big displays from an Orange County farmer's market.
I would love to hear where you are finding Asian pears. Leave a comment below and help us out.