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.
Apple charlotte is an old favourite, but when pears are in season and you've had your fill of poached pears and pears with chocolate sauce, use them to make a charlotte.
This wonderfully impressive recipe would make a great way to end a supper party... just add cream and toasted almonds to decorate for the final flourish!
This salad is a revelation - soft succulent pears, the sharp creaminess of Roquefort cheese and the dry nutty crunch of walnuts combine beautifully to make a salad that's second to none.
This unusual pickle looks impressive and tastes wonderful! Serve the pears with cold meats and poultry... they'd go particularly well with gammon or ham, and would make excellent food gifts.
A lovely versatile fruity dessert that can be made ahead for stress-free entertaining. Serve the sauce warm or cooled: either way this is a sensation for autumn and winter.
Although this lovely recipe may sound more like a dessert than a starter, it's actually a brilliantly refreshing way to begin a meal and cleanses the palate for what lies ahead.
This savoury cheesecake includes a clever blend of cheese flavours, as the smooth fromage frais and curd cheese gently complement the sharpness of the Roquefort.
The rich, dark flavour of Marsala combined with fragrant pear juices is a quite stunning combination. But this recipe can also be made with red wine or strong dry cider – each version has its own particular charm.
This makes just the right-sized, and most attractive, dessert for one. This idea also works very well with a poached peach in the summer. To poach a peach, follow the same method as for the pear...
Pears and goose complement each other very well, which is why there are pears in the stuffing as well as an accompaniment. Goose deserves a wider audience so this would be a great alternative to turkey at Christmas.