Where did pears come from?

Pears, like apples, come in thousands of varieties. However, unlike apples, their fine granular flesh is more fragile and often improves in flavor after they are picked. Pears are wide at the bottom than at the top while only a few varieties are spherical in shape. Pears grow in a wide variety of environments, and the world’s largest producers are China, Argentina, Italy, and the United states.

Uses And Benefits Of Pears

Pears can be consumed as fresh, canned, juice, or dried. Pears juice can be used in jellies and jam in combination with other fruits including berries. Pears are low in calories, but high in fiber. The fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and other minerals such as copper, iron, and manganese. it

Pear Cultivation

Pears can be grown in a wide range of soil and can fit within a small space making it a good choice for gardeners. Choosing the right variety is key to achieving quality fruits. It is advisable that two varieties of pears be planted since cross-pollination will be required to produce fruits. However, the two types must be compatible with each other. The soil must be well drained and fertile. The standard space between trees should be about 20 to 25 feet. The young trees should be regularly watered to help them establish roots. Fertilizer can only be applied in the early years of the plant while pruning should be done regularly to help the leaves and branches spread outward and not upward. One should watch out for diseases and pests such as fire blight and mites which can delay the maturity of the tree. Harvesting should be done when the fruit is almost mature when it is still hard.

Top Pear Producing Countries

China is the leading producing country of pears, having produced 16.5 million tonnes of pears in 2017. Argentina is the world’s second largest producer with 930,340 tonnes produced, followed by Italy (772,577) and the United States (677,891).

D’Anjou Pears: A Color Story

D’Anjou is the most popular winter pear variety, and a fruit that we take great pride in growing here at Stemilt. Did you know that there are actually two types of pears that go by the name d’Anjou? It’s true, two pears carry the very same French name (pronounced AWN-JU), the same juicy, sweet-citrus flavor profile, and can both be used for a variety of culinary purposes. As similar as these two pears are, they are two completely different varieties with one very apparent feature that sets them apart: their skin color lies on entirely different ends of the color wheel!

Just like their name implies, Green d’Anjou pears have a bright green skin similar to that of Granny Smith apples. They have been around for a long time, and though their history is not completely clear, are believed to have originated in Belgium in the 1800s. The variety is named after the Anjou region of France, and was brought to the U.S. in 1842 by Col. Marshall P. Wilder. He first grew the pear on his estate in Boston. Today, d’Anjou pears are grown in the Pacific Northwest, and if they are from Stemilt, they come from the two best pear locales in the world. You can read more about the locales our Rushing Rivers pears call home in this post.

On the other end of the color spectrum lies the Red d’Anjou pear. This maroon-skinned pear originated in the early 1950s as a bud sport growing on a green d’Anjou tree near Medford, Oregon. A bud sport is a natural mutation of the tree (usually a branch, but could be just a few pears) that often goes unnoticed and rarely yields marketable fruit. However, Red d’Anjou proved to be an exception to the rule and six decades later, is still grown and enjoyed today.

When it comes to using pears in new ways, the unique feature of these d’Anjou and Red d’Anjou – color – can make whatever you create all the more exciting. Together, d’Anjou and Red d’Anjou pears make a beautiful and contrasting tablescape or gift basket. Apart, you can use the color of the fruit to help a recipe or food pairing standout. How do you know whether to choose red or green? Here are 5 ways we love using each pear in order to best highlight each vibrant color:

  1. Use Red d’Anjou pears in pastries and alongside nuts. The deep red color of the pear pops off the golden hues of baked dough and nuts. These Mini Pear Tartletts are a great recipe to try.
  2. Go green for appetizer platters filled with crackers or crostini and a variety of gourmet cheeses.
  3. Choose red for grilling and placing atop a bed of greens and other red colored vegetables, like beets and radicchio. Check out this gourmet Grilled Red d’Anjou Pear and Radicchio Salad.
  4. Add a touch of green to a creamy white smoothie blend with Green d’Anjou pears, like in this Pear-Almond Milk Smoothie.
  5. Feature sliced Green d’Anjou pears on a bed of baby arugula dotted with red hues from fresh pomegranate and orange hues from fresh citrus. We show you how with this winter salad recipe.

(Pyrus pyrifolia)

‘Shinseiki’ fruit

Cultivars tested

‘Shinseiki’, ‘Hosui’, ‘Large Korean’

Description and site preference

Type and size – small to medium tree, about 15 feet
Hardiness zone – 4-8
Exposure – full sun to some shade
Soil – pH 6.0-7.5
Drainage – moderate to well-drained

Economic factors

Years to harvest – 2-4
Maintenance – medium to high (thinning required)
Life of planting – 50+ years
Machine harvest potential – none
Suitable markets – primarily fresh

‘Shinseiki’ in bloom

Notable features

Nutritional highlights – vitamins C, K; dietary fiber
Adaptability – variable
Pest issues – coddling moth, fire blight susceptibility variable
Invasive potential – none
Environmental benefits – unknown

Potential in an integrated fruit system

Shared management – medium (fruit thinning important)
Shared equipment – medium (care to avoid spread of fire blight)
Shared processing – not applicable
Co-marketing – low to medium (special handling)

Integration potential – some

Tree-ripened, locally grown fruit could command premiums in a local/regional marketing system with a short supply chain to reduce handling and preserve quality.

Dormant ‘Hosui’

History and background

Asian pears are native to countries in Asia. They have been cultivated for more than 2,000 years in China, where more than 3,000 cultivars are currently grown. They have also been grown in Japan since at least the 8th century. Asian pears have been in America for about 200 years, first used as ornamentals and later to hybridize with European pears for fire blight resistance.

In Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, Lee Reich said, “Although the genes of Asian pears are dispersed in hybrids, the fruits themselves still are relatively unknown outside Asia.” Asian pears are crisp, juicy and delicious fresh, but they have limited use as a processed fruit. They become mushy and flavorless when cooked due to high moisture content. They can be dried and are sometimes used to marinate meat. Because of their high sugar content, they are also used as a sweetener in sauces.

Observations at Carandale Farm

Three cultivars are being observed at the Carandale test plot, all of Japanese parentage (Pyrus pyrifolia).

‘Shinseiki’ was purchased from One Green World in 2003. This variety is susceptible to fire blight, and one of the two trees purchased died the first year after planting. The remaining tree has shown no sign of fire blight. It is not unusual for trees to become more resistant to fire blight when they start fruiting and have less vigorous vegetative growth. The fruit ripens in August and is sweet, flavorful and refreshingly juicy. The tree bears consistently, but needs thinning for good fruit size and quality. It even produced a few fruit in 2012 when the bloom on its European pear pollinator was frozen.

‘Housi’ and ‘Large Korean’ were purchased from Miller Nurseries in 2008. Two trees of each were purchased and planted as pairs for cross-pollination at two locations in the test plot. Trees near the ‘Shinseiki’ pear died in the first year from an unknown cause. ‘Large Korean’ is considered to have excellent resistance to fire blight. At the other location, both trees survived transplant but have been slow to establish. They looked healthy in 2012 and started to make substantial growth, but after four years are far behind ‘Shinseiki’ at the same age.

The difference in adaptability and growth response may have little to do with cultivars. It is more likely that plant quality (caliper and root structure) and rootstock selection were greater factors. ‘Shinseiki’ is on OH X F/531 rootstock, but the rootstock for ‘Housi’ and ‘Large Korean’ is not documented. Neither of these two cultivars have fruited as of 2012.


Asian pear was included in the test plot to test environmental adaptability and compare fruit quality of locally grown, tree-ripened fruit to fruit in traditional food chains. ‘Shinseiki’ was selected because of its cold hardiness, fruit quality and growth characteristics. It has fruited consistently since the second year after planting, with excellent fruit quality.

‘Housi’ and ‘Large Korean’ (also known as ‘Korean Giant’ or ‘Olympic’) were added in 2008 after initial testing appeared to be positive for including Asian pear as a possible addition to an integrated production system. When these start fruiting, there will be more information to share about the economic sustainability of this minor fruit for local/regional marketing.

Wikipedia entry on Asian Pear
Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, by Lee Reich
USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Asian Pear
Growing and Using Asian Pears,” Wallace P. Howell, Washington State University, Benton-Franklin County

Pears are one of the world’s oldest cultivated and beloved fruits. In 5,000 B.C., Feng Li, a Chinese diplomat, abandoned his responsibilities when he became consumed by grafting peaches, almonds, persimmons, pears and apples as a commercial venture. In The Odyssey, the Greek poet laureate Homer lauds pears as a “gift of the gods.” Pomona, goddess of fruit, was a cherished member of the Roman Pantheon and Roman farmers documented extensive pear growing and grafting techniques. Thanks to their versatility and long storage life, pears were a valuable and much-desired commodity among the trading routes of the ancient world. Evident in the works of Renaissance Masters, pears have long been an elegant still-life muse for artists. In the 17th century a great flourishing of modern pear variety cultivation began taking place in Europe. And in popular culture, the pear tree was immortalized alongside a partridge in the 18th-century Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Early colonists brought the first pear trees to America’s eastern settlements where they thrived until crop blights proved too severe to sustain widespread cultivation. Fortunately, the pear trees brought west to Oregon and Washington by pioneers in the 1800’s thrived in the unique agricultural conditions found in the Pacific Northwest. Today’s Northwest pear varieties are the same or similar to those first cultivated in France and Belgium where they were prized for their delicate flavor, buttery texture, and long storage life.

As more sophisticated irrigation and growing techniques developed during the past century, pear orchards flourished dramatically in the Northwest’s river valley regions located in a serpentine sprawl from Northern Central Washington to Central Southern Oregon.

Today, pear orchards in Oregon and Washington are as specialized as the regions that support them. Organic, commercial and multi-generation family orchards all contribute high-quality fruit to the Northwest’s fresh pear industry. Consumer interest and enjoyment of Northwest pears grows each year. Thanks to advancements in Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storage technology, fresh USA Pears are available to consumers nearly year-round.

A Northwest Treasure

The first arrival of pear trees to Oregon and Washington came with the pioneers. These trees found their way to the region by way of the Lewis and Clark Trail.

Pioneers that settled along the Columbia River in Oregon’s Hood River Valley, found ideal growing conditions for their pear trees. Vast orchards grow there today, in the shadow of majestic Mt. Hood. Volcanic soil, abundant water, warm days and cool nights combine to create the perfect conditions for growing the varieties found in Oregon.

The other principal growing area in Oregon is the Rogue River valley, around Medford in the Southeastern part of the state. Medford, near the end of the Cascade Mountain Range, also enjoys the rich volcanic soil and European-like weather that nurture the world’s most beautiful, sweet, and juicy pears.

The Cascade Range is part of the Ring of Fire, the mountains that ring the Pacific Rim. Many of the Northwest’s snow-capped peaks are dormant or still active volcanoes. The principal growing areas in the region are literally in the shadow of these mountains, which can rise over 11,000 feet above sea level.

Settlers in the shadows of Washington’s Cascade Range enjoyed similar success. With orchards dating back to the 1850’s, the Wenatchee Valley is an abundant producer of all USA Pear varieties. The rugged north central Washington region is exceptionally proud of its consistency of producing high-quality pears known the world over.

In central Washington’s Yakima Valley, the light, fertile soil of the agricultural-rich region supports thousands of acres of Northwest pear trees. The growing regions in Washington share their volcanic influences from Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens.

With these abundant crops, fresh pears naturally became a major part of Northwest cooking, which takes the finest local ingredients and combines them in delicious complimentary style. The versatile and delicate flavor of pears enhances the area’s bountiful fresh seafood and regional wines. Chefs in the Pacific Northwest and around the world use pears for all parts of the menu, from appetizers to entrees to desserts.

Due to this rich history and its positive impact on the state’s economy, the State of Oregon named the pear Oregon’s Official State Fruit. In addition, the USDA annually recognizes the pear by declaring the month of December as National Pear Month. The pear is indeed a Northwest treasure!

USA Pear Crop Statistics

  • There are currently nearly 900 pear growers in Washington and Oregon
  • Pears are Oregon’s number one tree fruit crop, its #8 agricultural commodity, and Oregon’s Official State Fruit
  • Washington’s fresh pear production is the largest in the United States
  • Oregon’s total pear production ranks 2nd overall in the United States and 2nd in terms of fresh pear production
  • In Washington State, pears are the third most valuable tree fruit crop behind apples and sweet cherries, and the tenth most valuable agricultural commodity overall
  • Combined annual fresh pear (not canned) harvest for Washington and Oregon currently averages over 442,000 tons
  • Washington and Oregon export about 35% of their fresh pear crop to more than 50 countries around the world.
  • About a quarter of the overall pear crop is canned (not represented by USA Pears/Pear Bureau Northwest). Most canning pears are Bartletts, with 63% of this variety being used for canning and processing into juices, etc.

Rescue pear, introduced by WSU Mount Vernon NWREC in 1987

History of Pears

The pears cultivated in Europe are thought to have arisen from Pyrus communis, a species native to Europe and Northern Asia. The fruit is small, hard, gritty, sour and astringent, and there is little evidence of its use for food by prehistoric people in Europe. In Japan and China cultivated pears developed from P. pyrifolia, now called Asian pears or Nashi (Japanese word for “pear”). Greek and Roman literature includes lists of cultivated pear varieties and discussed those suitable for wine, perry, or culinary use, while noting that the fruit should not be eaten raw. Through crossing and selection, the quality of pears for fresh eating was gradually improved. In medieval times, France was known for producing the best dessert pears, and many varieties were brought to England after the Norman Conquest in 1066. In 1770 one of the most important varieties still in cultivation today was developed, ‘Williams Bon Chrétien,’ bred by an English schoolmaster. Brought to America in 1797 and planted at an estate in Massachusetts, it was propagated and sold by Enoch Bartlett under his own name, not knowing the true name. Bartlett pears became – and remain today – one of the leading varieties in the USA. As pear orchards became more widespread, new and better seedlings were found and propagated by local farmers. Development and selection of improved varieties has continued to the present day, conducted by both private and state sponsored research programs.

Trials of European pears at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC began in the mid 1960s, to look at the varieties that were commonly available in nurseries, test new introductions, and screen seedlings of local origin that might prove to be better in quality and show improved resistance to disease, especially pear scab. Two new pear introductions resulted:

‘Orcas’ – seedling discovered by Joe Long, a farmer on Orcas Island, WA and sent to the Mount Vernon station in 1972 for testing. The trees are resistant to pear scab and productive, fruit is large and uniform size, good for canning or drying as well as fresh eating. Introduced in 1986.

‘Rescue’ – found by Knox Nomura, a nursery grower near Buckley, WA. He had seen the pear at fruit shows but the exhibitor never allowed anyone to take cuttings from his tree during his lifetime, and after his death the tree was scheduled for removal to expand an adjacent cemetery. Knox Nomura “rescued” scionwood from this original tree, and sent trees to Mount Vernon in 1975 for testing. Introduced in 1987.

A trial of disease resistant pears that originated in a breeding program at Kearneysville, WV (in cooperation with Dr. Richard Bell) was conducted from 1994 to 2002. One of the selections has been introduced as ‘Blake’s Pride’.

For a summary of pear and Asian pear variety trial results, see Reports.

Pear and Asian Pear Bloom Data

Pear cultivars and selections on trial in 2007

Bosc Pear Commercial Trial 1994–2002

A trial of Bosc pear on different rootstocks, including selected pollinizer varieties, was established in 1994 using both free-standing trees and trees trained to a V-trellis system, to evaluate the commercial potential of a niche market in pears for western Washington growers. The Bosc trees were grafted on rootstocks of Old Home/Provence Quince and Old Home X Farmingdale 217. Trees in some sections were planted at twice the standard density (4′ between trees rather than standard 8′). Trees in the V-trellis training section were grafted on Quince A and Quince C. Pollinizer varieties were Concorde, Conference, Comice (all on Quince C), and Starkrimson. Yields were measured to see if there are significant differences between the various cultural treatments and between varieties. This plot produced good yields and indicates that both Bosc and Conference have potential for consideration as alternative crops for growers in the Puget Sound region.

In 1999, trees of Taylor’s Gold Comice, a russeted variety of standard Comice, were added to the trial. This variety produced high quality fruit with attractive, fully russeted appearance. Young trees showed good productivity. Given the existing promotion of this variety from New Zealand, it has excellent potential as a niche market crop.

Report on this trial

Advanced Pear Selection Trial 1996–2001

Initiated in 1996 in cooperation with Dr. Richard Bell from the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia. One selection, USDA 66131-021, was named Blake’s Pride and introduced in 1999. Some other selections are considered for possible introduction or for inclusion in further breeding programs for disease resistance.

USDA Pear Evaluation

Asian Pears (Nashi)

Asian pears (Pyrus pyrifolia) are indigenous to China, where they have been cultivated for 4,000 years, and there are nearly 3,000 known varieties. Today pear orchards flourish throughout China, especially in the eastern and central regions. The Japanese have grown crunchy pears since the 7th century. The first known American introduction occurred when William Prince of Flushing, NY imported a “sand pear” from China about 1820 as a curiosity. Chinese workers in California after the 1849 Gold Rush planted Asian pear seeds in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and later Japanese immigrants brought cuttings of improved varieties. California remains the major commercial source of Asian pears in North America.

Some early introductions in western Washington did well, while others were not successful, so beginning in 1985 a trial was conducted including some 25 varieties, to see which were well adapted to growing conditions in a cool maritime climate. The major limitations to Asian pear culture in this area are disease susceptibility and the lack of enough summer heat to ripen some varieties to their best quality.

Asian pear cultivars on trial in 2007

Asian Pear Report 1978–1988

Where do Pears Come From

26 Nov, 2012 where do 0

Pears are an edible fruit that grow on trees or shrubs in the Rosaceae family, also known as pear trees. These trees typically grow between 10-17 m (32.8 – 55.7 ft) tall, but some species are far smaller. Pears are usually grown in mild and temperate climates and they are able to withstand very cold temperatures. A number of species in this family produce the popular fruit and there are also more than 3000 different varieties within these species. The fruit is known for its classic “pear shape”, but not all varieties have this shape and instead some resemble an apple. Let’s find out where the pear originated from and where it is grown today.

Where do pears originate from?
Pears are thought to be native to the much of Europe, Asia and parts of northern Africa, where they usually grow in areas with coastal and mild temperate regions. The pear has been cultivated for many thousands of years and there is evidence of pears being used for food from Europe that dates back to prehistoric times. It is also known that pears have been cultivated in China for at least 3000 years. The Romans were responsible for much of the popularity and advances in cultivation of this fruit throughout Europe. Pears have now spread throughout the world.

Where are pears grown today?
The largest producer of pears is China at an estimated 15 million metric tons. The next largest producers are the United States, Italy, and Argentina, each with approximately 700,000 metric tons produced each year. Other large producers are Spain, India, Turkey, South Africa, South Korea and Belgium. Pears are grown on all continents on Earth, apart from Antarctica.

Did you know?
Pears are a good source of vitamin C and dietary fiber. However, most of these nutrients are found within the skin of the pear!

Where do Apples Come From

Where do Pineapples Come From

What’s in Season: Pears

Buying and Storing A Favorite Fall Fruit

Pear season begins when Bartlett pears start arriving at the Greenmarkets in late summer. They’re soon followed by Bosc and Comice which are in season in the fall through winter. The Anjou is known as a winter pear. But right now they’re all available with a large and peak selection in our stores and Greenmarkets. Since there are many to choose from, which you buy will depend upon what you’re going to do with them.

While it’s always best to eat fruit when it’s truly in season, because New York gets produce from all over the world a pear may still be delicious despite being out of the local growing season. The only way to really tell is by buying one and tasting it.

Here are the most popular and commonly bought varieties:

  • Comice — Many consider this the best eating pear with a smooth and sweet flesh.
  • Bartlett — The most common pear, this is a sweet and juicy fruit with a green skin that ripes to yellow, sometimes with a blush of red. Best for eating (this is the pear that’s used for canned pears).
  • Anjou — Sweet and juicy, these don’t change color when they ripen and are good for both cooking and eating.
  • Seckel — The smallest of the most common pears, their sweet, spicy flesh can be grainy. Good for cooking
  • Bosc — A winter pear with a yellow-brown matte skin and creamy white flesh that’s ideal for cooking and baking.

    What to Look for Beyond the Variety

    Pears are tricky to buy because you can’t really tell how it will taste just from from looking at it. A pear may appear perfect. But take a bite and it may be grainy and tasteless. That’s because a pear’s appearance doesn’t reveal how it’s been harvested, handled and stored — another argument for buying from local farmers where the odds are greater that you’ll be getting a recently picked, carefully handled piece of fruit.

Before you buy:

  • Look at the pear. Avoid any with an unappealing skin or bruises.
  • The green skin of Bartlett pears will yellow when they ripen, but most other types of pears do not change appearance when ripening.
  • Unlike most fruit, pears are best picked unripe, and then left to ripen off the tree. So try to buy pears when they’re still hard, in advance of when you’ll want to eat or cook with them. Then leave the pears on a counter or in a bowl for several days to ripen. They’re sensitive to carbon dioxide so don’t store them in a plastic bag.
  • If you want to poach pears but hadn’t planned ahead in time to let a pear ripen in your own kitchen, that’s okay because even if a pear is hard and unripe, the hot poaching liquid will soften them.

How to Cook with Pears

The simplest way to cook a pear is to poach it in a saucepan filled with either a sugar syrup (1 cup water combined with 1 cup sugar, simmer until the sugar dissolves) or a combination of sugar syrup and wine (use white or red wine in place of half the water). You can poach a pear peeled and left whole, or else peel and cut it in half, scooping out the core with a melon baller. A medium-sized whole Bosc pear will poach in about 45 minutes. When the flesh is tender, remove it from the hot liquid and let it cool to room temperature before serving or refrigerating. If you want to serve the poaching liquid, boil it for a few minutes to reduce and slightly thicken it which will intensify its sweet, pear flavor.

A perfect dessert is a poached pear served with a piece of cheese or a spoonful of Parmesan Foam (see our recipe) or with a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Pears are also a perfect centerpiece in a simple cake or a fruit tart, such as the classic Pear Frangipane tart that combines slices of pears with almond paste. We’ve included a link to a Martha Stewart recipe for Baked Pears with Cream that produces the flavor of a pear tart without the trouble of making a pastry dough.

Pears also can be part of a savory dish, as in a compliment to meats, especially pork. A popular Italian combination is cubes of butternut squash tossed with cubes of pears, each cooked in a sauté pan with a little butter until tender — cook them separately and then combine because the squash takes longer to cook. It’s a wonderful side dish for a simple roasted pork loin.


Pears are grown throughout Idaho, but primarily in the southwest Snake River Valley. Major Idaho varieties include Bartlett, Anjou, and Bosc pears. Harvest season in Idaho is late August and September, but due to storage capabilities pears are available fresh through November.

Pear Basics

Idaho Bartlett pears are the most common variety with the classic pear shape and golden color when ripe. Bartletts are sweet, soft, delicious, and perfect for snacking. Idaho Bosc pears have skinny necks with thick, brown skin. Bosc pears can be tricky to select because they can be soft or hard when ripe. Their flavor can be wonderful when they’re ready, or tough and tasteless when they’re not perfectly ripe. For this reason, many save Bosc pears for baking.

What To Look For: Pears are a unique fruit that ripen best off of the tree. Pears shipped and sold in grocery stores are often fully mature, but not ripe. Look for pears that are firm without bruises or spots. Pears are ripe when the skin near the stem yields to gentle pressure.

How to Store: Store at room temperature until ripe – refrigerating pears before they are ripe can lead to loss of flavor, texture and appearance. To hasten ripening, place pears in a paper bag at room temperature and check daily. Once ripe, place pears in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to three days.

Fun Facts

  • Idaho is great for growing pears because of its rich volcanic soil and mild, dry climate.
  • Idaho and other Northwest states account for 98% of the U.S. pear production.
  • Idaho pears are available August through September, Idhao pears come in several varieties including Bosc and Bartlett.
  • One pear has 24% of your daily-recommended value of fiber and is a great source of Vitamin C and potassium.
  • Pears do not ripen on the tree! You must pick the fruit and let them ripen from the inside out.


  • Pear Chutney

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