The orchard leaves will start taking on autumn colors and glow ever so faintly as the days get shorter. And a stillness will fall over the farm as the “go, go, go” nature of our busy summer ends. Everyone will once again catch their breath and take a moment to look back at what we have accomplished. Pear season ushers in a relaxing. And that will help ease me into this new world without peaches.
“If you are anything like me you grew up eating pears that were firm, gritty and tasteless or canned pears that were sickeningly sweet,” says Chef Becky. “I never liked them because I never had a good one. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s and began cooking professionally that I began to appreciate pears. But it was not until I had a Warren that I began to love them.”
Like with many of Frog Hollow’s fruit varieties, it’s the extra care that goes into growing and harvesting pears here that makes them taste so yummy. We grow both European and Asian pears, with our most notable varietal being the famously delicious Warren. “Commercial farmers won’t grow Warren pears, even though it has a superior taste to common pears like the Bartlett,” says Farmer Al. “They say it’s too fragile, too much work. But if you do put in the time and effort it takes to grow the Warren, you reap the benefits ten-fold in how it tastes”.
Warren pears are one of the three European pear varieties we grow. European pears are known for their juicy, buttery texture and teardrop shape. The second variety we grow, the Taylor’s Gold pear, is known for its tenderness, cinnamon-colored skin, and speckled gold flush. And the Bosc, the last of the three to come of the trees, are strikingly decorative with a russet skin and wonderful texture for pies, tarts, and poaching.
The other main category of pears grown in North America are Asian pears, which boast a crunchier texture and a round shape. We grow four Asian varieties: Hosui, Seckel, Shinko, and Shinseiki. The Hosui’s are crunchy with a melting mouthfeel—a spectacular combination. The Seckel is green with a dark-red blush, extremely sweet, and very juicy. The Shinko has a creamy white flesh, subtly rich flavor, and butterscotch notes to its sweetness. And the Shinseiki (also known as “apple pears”) have a refreshing crispness like an apple, with the smooth sweetness of a pear.
Unlike our tree-ripened fruit, pears are harvested early to ripen off the tree. If left on the tree to fully soften up, they would turn mealy and begin to rot from the inside. So we begin our pear harvest in August and put them into a massive fridge for cold storage. At just a few degrees above freezing, the starches in the pears become sugars, the skin gets thinner, and the juiciness improves. Pears are quite good for us, if left to do what they need to do!
With the many benefits of cold storage, we can enjoy pears from August through the fall and into the early spring. Warren and Hosui pears are already available to order.
As with all Frog Hollow fruit, the pear trees are hand-tended and hand-harvested by highly specialized crew members who live and work on the farm year-round. Many of our skilled workers have decades of training and skillfully handle extra fragile, organic fruit. A unique combination of organic farming techniques, specialized attention and California sunshine distinguish our pears, which have been praised by Martha Stewart Living and Oprah Magazine alike! They make a great gift for any season. You can enjoy them now in a summer salad and then also in a couple months to kick off your holiday season.
Dive into pear season with these amazing recipes…
- Rich and Creamy Grilled Cheese with Warren Pear
- Roasted Squash and Warren Pears with Fried Sage and Honey Vinaigrette
- Warren Pears on Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese
- Warm Spinach and Pear Salad
- Warren Pear Crostini with Blue Cheese and Pepper Jelly
- Chez Panisse's Warren Pear and Huckleberry Crisp
- Butternut Squash and Pear Soup with Spiced Yogurt
- Chef Becky's Pear Sorbet