Since the pear has always seemed to get short shrift in this country, with even fewer ‘industrial’ choices than the apple - it has been nice to see an increase in the amount of new offerings in the Farmers’ markets over the last few years, especially heirloom and antique varieties. Last week I came across four varieties that I hadn’t remembered seeing before, Reimer pears from Little Wing Farm, and Maxine (top right), Butirra Precoce Morettini (aka Morettini bottom left), and Summer Crisp (top left) pears all from Booth Canyon Orchards.
As with all of the other fruit sold by little Wing Farm, their Reimer Pears (bottom right) were a day or two away from being perfectly ripe. I still haven’t been able to track down the history of this variety, but they were sweet and buttery smooth in texture, and it was hard to stop at one.
The other three varieties are all first year offerings from Booth Canyon Orchards. They performed the grafts five years ago and this is the first time they are bringing them to market. The Morettini is an old Italian variety that is gaining in popularity with farmers, and it was the ripest of the three. It had the smoothest texture a medium amount of sweetness and a spiciness to the finish.
The Summer Crisp is an early ripening variety was developed at the University of Minnesota in the 1980s - technically not an heirloom. It was about three days away from being perfectly ripe. The sweetest of the three, it had a medium graininess and lots of juice, but not the most complex ‘pear’ flavor.
The Maxine (aka Starking Delicious) was developed in Ohio in the 1920s. It was very crisp, most likely because it was still ‘green,’ which also accounted for its significant astringency just under the skin - even at this stage I could detect some interesting flavors in the skin. Its coarse texture is close to that of an Asian pear, although it’s flavor says ‘European’ to me. While it was the juiciest of the three varieties, it was also the least sweet, even after four days on the counter. I tend to prefer the buttery texture to a grainy one in pears, but there is something about the Maxine that made it my favorite of the three.