Asian pear varieties:
As for Asian pears, there are more than 100 varieties ranging in size from very large to very small. These brown to yellow-green pears which are generally round in shape originated in Japan and China and are sometimes called Chinese pears after their heritage or apple pears after their shape and crunch. Asian pear trees bloom later than European pears and, for that reason, generally come to harvest later as well.
The Shinko Asian pear that I found at the market this week was round just like a small apple and tasted equally of juicy pear and apple sweetness. Blindfolded, it might have been a tough call. Asian pears are great in a mixed fruit salad or you can slice them raw onto a green salad.
Whatever pear you choose, look for those that are firm and well shaped and free of blemishes. Don’t choose a pear that is bruised or too ripe. Pears that have been left on the tree too long will be gritty and granular.
Ripening pears. European pears should be ripened off the tree in a cool, dark place sitting on their bottoms. A pear that is ripe will have a matte skin and will yield slightly to the touch at the neck end. Pears that are a few days from ripe will have bright, shiny and taut skins.
A pear should ripen on its own, but if you want to hurry up the process, place it in a pierced paper bag with an apple or a banana.