What Makes Frog Hollow's Warren Pears Better Than Others?

What Makes Frog Hollow's Warren Pears Better Than Others?

Frog Hollow Farms' Rebecca Courchesne (Chef Becky!), co-author of CookingLight Magazine's "The Art of Preserving," shares her experience with the Warren pears and describes how she fell in love with them. Are you wondering how to cook Warren pears? Learn from the expert herself…

How Chef Becky fell in love with Warren pears…
If you are anything like me you grew up eating pears that were firm, gritty and tasteless or, canned pears that were sickeningly sweet. I never liked pears because I never had a good one. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s and began cooking professionally and shopping at Monterey Market under the tutelage of Bill Fujimoto and inspiration from Lindsey Shere founding pastry chef of Chez Panisse, that I began to appreciate pears. But it was not until I had a Warren that I began to love them.

How are pears different from stone fruit? How to ripen pears after picking?
At Frog Hollow, stone fruit season went by in a flash this year. For so many years we only had stone fruit and so by September, we were “done.” Now, our season goes on into winter with pears, apples, olives, and citrus. Even though our picking season is longer, once the Warren pears are picked and tucked away to transform from starch to pure sweetness and the last peach has been picked, things slow down considerably. We have all winter to sell our pears as they will remain in cold storage through the fall and early winter. Nothing is as intense, hectic or as consuming as the stone fruit season; stone fruit is fleeting and tempestuous and has to be picked and eaten right away and cannot linger like the steady, patient pear.

What are the different types of European pears grown at Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood, California?
As many of you know, we have 4 types of pears here at Frog Hollow. Most pears are picked in late August, although this year everything was early. The Warrens were picked first, then Taylor’s Gold and lastly the Bosc (I am referring to the European pears, not the Asian Pears here, those we’ll talk about later). As with the stone fruit, the pears were picked early and backed up on each other in ripening. Usually, we would be beginning to pick Bosc right now but here we are, early September and all our pears are picked.

Can you cook with Warren pears? Recipe ideas, please…
The Warrens are named after a gentleman named T.O. Warren who discovered the pear in his neighbors’ yard near his home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. They are by far my favorite pear for eating fresh. Nothing beats cutting into a ripe warren pear, unveiling the smooth, cream-colored flesh that drips its sweet juice before the knife finishes making its cut. It has a distinctly sweet, buttery flavor. September through January we eat sliced Warren Pears on sourdough toast with blue Castello cheese. (see recipe). This also makes an easy and impressive appetizer served with arugula tossed in shallot/champagne vinaigrette. They are also great for baking and poaching although they are softer than and not as hardy for poaching as the Bosc.

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