What Are Comice Pears?
Comice pears are a variety of pear not as well known as some other varieties, but nevertheless are very special. When shopping for pears, we more often than not select the Bartlett, probably the best known variety of pear. The Bartlett is usually bright yellow or slightly green when ripe, though there is a Red Bartlett variety as well. The Anjou pear is also a favorite, having a very juicy and uniformly textured flesh. In truth, there are hundreds of varieties of pears. In fact almost every pear we eat is a hybrid, and the tree the pear came from cannot be replicated from the seeds found in the pear. One can argue forever about what the best varieties are, and there are many very good ones.
Comice pears however are a variety having the distinction of being called the "Holiday Pears" and the Christmas Pears". The name is derived from a French phrase meaning "best in show". When you get a mail-order gift box containing some excellent pieces of fruit, the pear is most apt to be a Comice pear. These pears do appear in the grocery stores, usually around the holiday season, but the very best examples are set aside for gift boxes and special occasions.
Superb With Fine Cheese - A Comice pear is one of the sweetest and juiciest pears one can eat. A gourmet's desert might consist of a slice or two of a Comice pear, together with a fine cheese such as a Brie or a Camembert. About the only criticism of this pear is that its very juiciness makes it a poor choice for cooking, but anyone who has tasted it likely feels that cooking a Comice is the equivalent of murder.
Grown In The Northwest - Like most varieties of pears, Comice pears originated in Europe, specifically in France. They are now grown in the United States, primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Most Comice pears you are apt to come across probably were grown in Oregon. The area west of the Continental Divide and north of California is "pear country" with most all of the marketed varieties grown in that region.
Pears are harvested before ripening and placed in a cool environment until ready to be shipped to the marketplace. Tree ripened pears will usually disintegrate during transportation or on the retailers shelves. Getting a pear, a Comice pear, or any other variety on the grocery shelves at the right time is something of an art. Getting Comice pears prepared for holiday gift box or gift basket shipping, so that they arrive at their destination when just ripening, is no less of an art.
Identifying The Comice - One can identify Comice pears by looking for a pear that is quite rotund in appearance, yet still has a well-defined, though short neck. The ripened pear is normally greenish, though may have a slight reddish blush. There are varieties of the Comice which when ripe are significantly more reddish in color. Comice pears come in all sizes, though size doesn't matter much when it comes to flavor. Needless to say, it is the larger, or jumbo Comice pears that find their way into Christmas gift boxes.
Nutrition - If you can't afford a jumbo, try purchasing two smaller pears. You'll get the same juice and flavor, at a lower price! From a nutritional standpoint, an average-sized Comice pear contains roughly 100 calories, contains no fat, cholesterol, or sodium, and is a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, calcium, iron and Vitamin C. Should you get a gift box containing one or more of these beauties, and they are not yet ripe, just stick them in a plastic bag with a banana. Once the pears are ripe, they'll keep several days in the refrigerator.