Best from September to late October
France is the home of the best pear variety, the Comice, which for years was reverently named Doyenne du Comice, and it does seem that those with the fullest figures and most gloriously juicy, melting interiors come from either France or Italy. British growers produce good crops of the slimmer Conference pear and – recently – of a hybrid called Concord, which is part Comice and part Conference.
Pears don't travel particularly well and are not the subject of a huge international trade, so here is one fruit that has stayed nicely seasonal. Yellow Williams pears are the first of the year in late August. Pears are picked when they are hard so they don't bruise, then stored. They ripen when returned to room temperature.
If you have an ancient tree in your garden that yields rock-hard pears that no amount of mollycoddling indoors will ripen, then you have an old-fashioned cooking variety, a fruit that is commercially obsolete but great for cooks. Some recipes only work with solid, unripe pears.
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