About the Bosc Pear
Of all the varieties of pear, the Bosc pear has many features that puts it in a different class than other pears. This European pear has been called “the aristocrat of pears” for its distinctive tapered shape and long stem. With their gold and russet coloring and elegant silhouette, the Bosc pear has historically been the subject of botanical illustrations and has been used in still life paintings. You can take advantage of the Bosc’s beauty by serving them halved or whole.
Bosc pairs have a distinctive long stem with a slight curve. Their elongated necks gradually widen into a round base. Their unique color is a dark yellow with cinnamon brown patterns on part or all of the skin. These darker brown patterns, called “russeting,” are a natural part of the pear skin and are also seen on apples. Russeting is usually slightly raised and maybe rougher than the surrounding skin, but does not affect the taste of the fruit.
The History of the Bosc Pear
In addition to their aristocratic shape, the Bosc pear has a storied history. Culinary historians debate whether the Bosc originated in France or Belgium, but they were discovered in the early nineteenth century. At that time, pears were named for a characteristic of the fruit as well as the origins. Therefore, “Bosc” comes from the director of the Paris Botanical Garden, M. Bosc. Other names for the Bosc include Buerre Bosc, which means “buttery” Bosc and Calabasse Bosc, meaning “gourd-shaped Bosc.” Bosc pears were first planted in the United States in the 1830s in the eastern US. It was soon found that Bosc pear trees thrive in the climate and soil of the Pacific Northwest, and many Bosc pears are now grown in Oregon and Washington. The Bosc are also sometimes called Kaiser or Kaiser Alexander pears today.
Bosc pears are usually harvested in the early fall in Northern California, Oregon and Washington. The Bosc pear can be found in the produce section of fine grocery stores starting in the fall around September. Their season continues until around April or May. Because of their beauty, you will usually see the Bosc pear in displays with other varieties of pear.
Taste and Ripeness
The Bosc pear has a honey sweetness and complex flavor when fully ripened. This variety of pear develops its flavor and juiciness earlier in the ripening process than other pears, so it can be enjoyed earlier. The Bosc pear also has a slightly denser flesh than other varieties of pear, and this must be considered when checking for ripeness. To test for ripeness, press your thumb into the flesh along the neck of the pear. The flesh beneath the skin should give slightly, but less than other pears because of the dense flesh. Sometimes the Bosc also has a deeper yellow color as it ripens, and can have wrinkling at the stem. Boscs are ripened like any other pear: by leaving at room temperature. Only refrigerate pears after they are ripe, as cooler temperatures will hold back the ripening process.
If you prefer a firmer texture, Bosc pears can be enjoyed fresh, and their unique shape makes for beautiful thin slices. Try fresh Bosc pear in a mixed green salad with red onions, candied pecans, and blue cheese. Drizzle with a dressing of maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and mayonnaise. Because of their firmer, denser flesh, the Bosc pear is ideal for broiling, baking or poaching. They retain their shape well during cooking, and their sweet flavor is not overwhelmed by spices like nutmeg or clove. To make the perfect poached pear, slice the pear in half and remove seeds. Poach in port wine, cinnamon, and clove.