Farm Focus: The History of the Pear

We love our pears at Frog Hollow! Pears are one of the world’s oldest and most beloved fall fruits. Cultivation of most modern pear varieties began as early as the 17th century in Europe and Asia, while early pear records even date back to 5000 B.C. in Asia!

Pear trees were originally brought to America’s eastern settlements with the early colonists, but crop blight lead to the decline in their production. Thankfully, however, pioneers who traveled west on the Lewis and Clark Trail in the 1800s brought pear trees to now Oregon and Washington. These pear trees thrived in the coastal and temperate agricultural conditions of the Pacific Northwest, much like they still do today!

Today, there exist a plethora of pear varieties. In your CSA box this week, you have just three, but there exist thousands of varieties. The reason for such diversity is because pear flowers usually require pollen from a different variety of pear in order to make fruit. This makes it difficult to identify how varieties, like our beloved Warren Pear, may have come into existence. We, however, do know that Warren pears combine the best features of its ancestors, with the intensely sweet, rich, spicy flavor and disease resistance of Seckel, and the larger size and voluptuous juiciness of Comice. Thomas Warren, an amateur fruit grower and the namesake of the Warren pear, accidentally came upon the Warren pear growing in his friend’s backyard!  Our Asian pears, on the other hand, are a cross between two varieties of pears the Pyrus ussuriensis (the Ussuri pear) and the Pyrus Pyrifo-lia (the Japanese sand pear).

Just as there are many diverse varieties of pears, many people enjoy pears in diverse ways. From fresh, canned, juiced, dried, jellied, to baked, pears are a delicious and unique fall treat. Many people enjoy them savory in salads and served with a nice cheese or sweet in galettes and pies. The next time that you take a bite of a sweet, juicy, buttery, and flavorful Frog Hollow pear, don’t forget to consider its rich history!

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