A pear is a pomaceous fruit produced by a tree of genus Pyrus. The English word pear is probably from Common West Germanic *pera, probably a loanword of Vulgar Latin pira, the plural of pirum, which is itself of unknown origin. See also Peorð. The place name Perry can indicate the historical presence of pear trees. The term "pyriform" is sometimes used to describe something which is "pear-shaped".
The pear is classified within Maloideae, a subfamily within Rosaceae. The apple (Malus ×domestica) which it resembles in floral structure, is also a member of this subfamily. In both cases the so-called fruit is composed of the receptacle or upper end of the flower-stalk (the so-called calyx tube) greatly dilated, and enclosing within its cellular flesh the five cartilaginous carpels which constitute the "core" and are really the true fruit. From the upper rim of the receptacle are given off the five sepals, the five petals, and the very numerous stamens. Another major relative of the pear (and thus the apple) is the quince.
The form of the pear and of the apple respectively, although usually characteristic enough, is not by itself sufficient to distinguish them, for there are pears which cannot by form alone be distinguished from apples, and apples which cannot by superficial appearance be recognized from pears. A major distinction is the occurrence in the tissue of the fruit, or beneath the rind, of clusters of lignified cells known as "grit" in the case of the pear, while in the apple no such formation of woody cells takes place. The appearance of the tree—the bark, the foliage, the type of inflorescence (i.e. form of the flower cluster)—is, however, usually quite characteristic in the two species.
Usage: In salads and eaten raw.
Selection: Good-quality Anjou pears will be medium-sized or larger with no scars or bruises. The coloring will be yellow-green with an occasional red blush. Pears are ripe when they yield to gentle pressure at the stem end.
Avoid product with soft spots or scars that are more than skin-deep. Too much yellow means an Anjou pear is over ripe. Product that is extremely hard will ripen best at room temperature.
Anjou pears are available October through June.
Usage: Eating fresh.
Selection & Storage: Also called Nashi apple, Chinese, Japanese and Oriental pear, good quality Asian pears are selected by smell rather than variations in firmness. Unlike other pears that yield to gentle pressure when ripe, Asian pears are ripe even when they are extremely firm.
Look for a fairly strong and sweet aroma (they will not smell as strong if they are cold).
Those originating from Japan have clear yellow, brown or yellow-brown skin while those from China are clear-skinned and green-yellow.
Avoid pears that are soft, wrinkled, have numerous scuff marks or are obviously bruised.
Available July to late October from California, Washington, Oregon and Japan
These are very juicy and great for eating out of hand. They turn yellow when ripe.
This firm and crunchy pear is the best choice for cooking, because it holds its shape nicely. Bosc pears can also be eaten out of hand.
California Sugar Pear
This small pear is the same size as a Seckel pear, but it's not as juicy and sweet.
These juicy pears are considered to be the best for eating out of hand, but they're very expensive.
These economical pears aren't as tasty as some of the other varieties, but they're still good for both eating and cooking. The peel stays light green even when the pear is ripe.
French butter pear
Red Anjou Pear
Very similar to a green Anjou pear.
Red Barlett Pear
This tastes just like a yellow Bartlett, but it's more attractive and more expensive.
Red Cascade Pear
These are small pears with red and green skins. They're very sweet and juicy and they'd be absolutely perfect if only the skins weren't a bit too thick.
Taylor's Gold pear
Winter Nellis Pear
These are especially good for baking