Two of the most commonly found pears in the grocery store are compared - the Bartlett and D'Anjou. Also learn about their red counterparts and which is best for cooking.
I think pears are underated.
They are always in the store. But I think they don't get much attention.
People are more often to think about putting apples on the grocery list than pears.
When I worked at Whole Foods Market, there was a certain brand of pear that on the box encouraged us to market them with apples, as when pears are paired with apples, pear sales go up. At least according to the box.
I wanted to give pears more attention on this blog, they desire it. When you get a perfectly ripe pear it is divine. That balance of juiciness and sweetness is hard to beat.
Why I think people tend to pick apples over pears, is because pears you have to wait until ripe to eat. And many people have a hard time knowing when they are ripe - we have already discussed this topic on the blog.
One of the things is that different pears ripen, well differently. Some change color, and some don't.
I thought this would be a great time to talk about two of the most common pears you find in the grocery store - Bartlett and D'Anjou. Let's compare and contrast these pears to help you find the perfect pear to eat and cook with.
Check out all the posts in our What's the Difference series. Cheddar vs. Colby. Flat vs. Point Brisket. White vs. Yellow Popcorn and many other topics.
What is a Bartlett Pear?
Do you know that the Bartlett Pear is also called the Williams pear? In the U.S. we go with the Bartlett name, while Williams is the name used in other parts of the world.
The Bartlett pear is the most widely known pear. What is unusual about that is that it has been around since the 1700s! That's very different from apples where the most popular varieties have only been around for less than a century (such as Honeycrisp). The Bartlett's longevity is amazing.
The pear is considered a summer pear as it ripens in the late summer. It is among one of the earliest pears to ripen.
You can tell it's a Bartlett by it's shape. It is wide around the middle, then tapers off at the top. It tends to have small little specks in the skin.
Bartlett vs. Packham's Triumph Pears
Sometimes you will find Packham's Triumph pears labeled as Bartlett pears. They are actually a different variety, with a slightly different shape. They originated in Australia, while the Bartlett originated in Europe.
I actually prefer the flavor of Packham over Bartlett. Packham pears are imported and can be found in the U.S. in the late winter/early spring.
What is a D'Anjou Pear?
The full name of the D'Anjou Pear is actually Beurré d'Anjou. Sometimes you will see them just referred to as Anjou. They originated in the 19th century in Belgium but are named after the Anjou region of France .
The pear has more of an egg shape. It is thicker at the bottom and middle, and only tapers off on top a tiny bit, unlike the Bartlett. The stems are shorter than the Bartlett too.
The skin is green with flecks in the skin.
Red D'Anjou Pear
One of the best looking pears you can find at your local supermarket is the Red d'Anjou. It's dark red color is very appealing. It's a very popular choice to include on a cheese board.
This pear has been around since the 1950s. It was first grown as a bud sport (a mutation) from a green D'Anjou pear tree found in Oregon. It's not often that these mutations produce anything good. Other than the color it is not much different than the original D'Anjou pear.
Sometimes Red D'Anjou will be labeled in the store as just Red Pears. Starkrimson is another red pear variety that is sometimes just labeled as Red Pears. So sometimes you have to either red the PLU sticker or look for the D'Anjou shape to know you are getting a Red D'Anjou. Grocery stores don't always make it easy on us!
Red Bartlett Pears
Red Bartlett pears have been developed as well. They are harder to find. I couldn't find any at the time of writing this post, but I have had them before.
Their flavor is pretty much the same as well. Their color is not as pretty as the Red D'Anjou. The skin is not all skin' it's red over a background of green, like a Bartlett got a really good tan.
I believe it's that not as vibrant color is why they aren't' as popular as Red D'Anjou.
What is the Difference Between Bartlett and D'Anjou Pears?
The biggest difference between these two pear varieties is that the Bartlett turns yellow when it's ripe and D'Anjou stay green. This is really key to know and remember if you want to be successful in finding ripe pears.
The changing skin is a huge advantage for the Bartlett and a reason they are popular.
The time of year they are harvested is different as well. Bartlett pears ripen early in the season. D'Anjou come in later. You also will find D'Anjou in the store when Bartlett are gone.
I recommend buying Bartletts in August-October and then D'Anjou after that.
What is the Difference in Flavor?
D'Anjou pears are juicer with more floral, sweet flavor with a melting flesh as in they kind of melt in your mouth as you chew them. Some describe their flavor as citrus like, which I don't really detect.
If you grew up in canned pears, you will immediately recognize the flavor of the Bartlett as most canned pears are Bartletts. I can't help be reminded of that every time I eat a fresh Bartlett. I think it's a slightly stronger flavor, but I prefer how the D'Anjou taste, even if they are a little more mild.
Which Pear is Best for Cooking With?
I would choose the D'Anjou for cooking things like poached pears, tarts, pies, or cobblers. D'Anjou pears are more firm than Bartlett pears.
If you are making pear butter than go with Bartlett as they will break down faster.
Tell us which pear do you like better - Bartlett or D'Anjou. Leave a comment below.