Bite into a ripe and juicy pear and you may not care what the variety happens to be. Although thousands of pear varieties grow around the world, only a few grow successfully in the U.S. Whether you are choosing a variety to purchase in the grocery store or you wish to plant a pear tree, identify pears by their appearance, taste and growing season.
Check the growing season. Some pear varieties mature earlier than others. For example, Bartlett and Starkrimson pears come into season in late summer and continue to mature through midwinter. Anjou (or D'Anjou), Bosc, Comice, Seckel and Concorde pears generally come into season in early autumn and continue to mature through late winter. Forelle pears come into season in the middle of autumn and continue to mature through early spring.
Notice the colour of the pears. Some are green when ripened (Concorde, Seckel and green Anjous), while some turn a yellow or yellow-green when they become ripe (Bartlett, Bosc, Comice and Forelle). Other pears turn red upon ripening (Starkrimson and red Bartletts and Anjous). A few pears may develop a red blush at maturity (Forelle and Seckel).
Pay attention to the fruits' shape. Some pears are short and round, such as Anjou, Comice and Seckel. Others are taller, yet still have a rounded bottom (Starkrimson, Forelle, Bosc and Bartlett). Concorde pears are very tall and thin.
Check the texture of the flesh. Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc pears have a juicy consistency. Concorde pears have a firm and dense texture, while Forelles and Seckels are crispy and crunchy. Some pears are better suited for cooking due to their texture--Forelle, Concorde and Bosc are three such varieties.
Taste the flavour of the pears. While most have a light sweetness, Comice and Seckel are two exceptionally sweet pears. Starkrimson, Concorde and Bartlett pears have a slight floral flavour.