Dana’s Big Gardening Adventure: Meet the new pears!

Meet three newly developed Ontario pear varieties. For the next few years they will be sold in small quantities at farmers’ markets so do look for them there. Once production increases, widespread grocery store distribution will be possible but that won’t be until 2014 or so. It sounds like a long time but not nearly as long as it took for them to be chosen as viable commercial crops.

Through natural breeding techniques, these three new pear varieties were developed to be not only resistant to fire blight and other diseases but also winter hardy so that they can flourish in the harsh Canadian climate. According to Ken Slingerland, a pear specialist who works to develop new pear varieties, it took more than 10,000 attempts over 30 years to come up with these 3 commercially viable pears.

At a media event held last week in Toronto, Ken told me that over the next two years 50,000 new trees will be planted by Ontario pear farmers so that we can eat locally grown pears well into December.

I took home one of each of these new varieties so that I can have a taste of the future. So far I’ve tried the Harrow Crisp (the little one in the centre of the picture above) and it is very sweet and delicious. The other two new varieties are Harovin Sundown (left) and the not yet marketer named HW620 (at right).  I’m still waiting for these two pears to ripen but if my Harrow Crisp experience is any indicator, I think they will be delicious, too!

How can you get your hands on these new pears?  You can haunt farmers’ markets in the Niagara region or, next spring, look for tree stock at garden centres and plant a couple of these trees in your backyard (note: when planting pears you always need at least two trees so that they can cross pollinate).  If that sounds like too much effort, then look for Ontario Bartletts, Anjou and Bosc pears in the grocery store. They are still a fabulous local choice and this year, instead of sending much of the fresh crop to be canned, growers have made a deal with grocery stores to deliver these fresh, local pears throughout November.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy pears?  I love them eaten out of hand or baked in a pear upside down gingerbread cake. Yum!

14 Responses to Dana’s Big Gardening Adventure: Meet the new pears!

  1. Rosa says:

    Interesting varieties! I love to eat my pears when they are stil crisp, alone!

    Cheers and have a nice weekend,


  2. danamccauley says:

    Charmian Christie (http://christie-corner.blogspot.com/) sent the following comment to me via email:

    Wow, 10,000 tries over 20 year? I’d have given up long ago.

    While I’m not a big pear fan, I’ve discovered I like them poached in black currant wine. Here’s a link to my recipe:

    I’ll look for Harovin Sundown and Harrow Crisp at the Farmers’ Market tomorrow. But I don’t think I can work up the nerve to ask for an HW620. It sounds more like an autopart than a pear. Now why didn’t that one get a nice name, too?

  3. Cheryl says:

    I love pears raw with cheese, though I do admit I peel them. (For some reason, the skin bothers me, except on Boscs.) Also, there’s a wonderful Ginger Pear Muffin recipe in one of Emily Luchetti’s cookbooks (Stars Desserts, I think). Big chunks of fresh pear, diced crystallized ginger, and a dash of Poire William liqueur — a great muffin!

  4. danamccauley says:

    That muffin sounds de-lish! I have that book. I shall look it up.

    Pears and roguefort were a combo I craved when I was pregnant. I’d stop at All the Best Fine Foods and get a wedge of cheese, go next door to Harvest Wagon and grab a couple of pears and then head home. I never made it through the 10 minute drive without eating at least one pear and a good chunk of the cheese.

  5. Adam says:

    Mmmm pears are great. I love bosc the most, and just eat them straight up with a pinch of allspice. I nice crumb cake doesn’t really hurt too much either 🙂

  6. Cheryl A says:

    Funny, I am on my way to make a honey pear cheesecake for a family dinner tomorrow. It will be an adventure! Truly, I love them sliced and plain and slightly overripe.. I don’t like to eat them out of hand, unless I am sitting on the back steps and the dogs are around to lick the juices that run off my hands.

  7. danamccauley says:

    Dogs as groomers – nice reversal on the usual situation! Good luck with your cheesecake. It sounds delicious. I hope the recipe will be featured in your blog. Do you know about the other Sheryl’s pear blogging event?

    Check out her site for details: http://saveyourfork.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/food-blogging-event-the-seasonal-feast-pears/

  8. Hélène says:

    Interesting. I love pears. I don’t think we will get these in BC.

  9. danamccauley says:

    Hard to say Helene. I went to an Ontario sponsored event so all the info was very Ontario centric. I can see these pears growing well in BC, too.

  10. Puglette says:

    Hibby and I have been working our way through a pear pie made by his mom. She used pears from the tree in her backyard. It’s delicious! We have been warming the pie and adding a scoop of caramel butter pecan ice cream….mmmmmmm

  11. veron says:

    I love pears as they are. I also love pear sorbet!

  12. tara says:

    So many good ideas! Now I’m thinking of all the pear possibilities, so well suited for this time of year. I do love them out of hand, but at the same time I adore them sliced along with some cheese and proscuitto in a panini, roasted alongside a pork loin with thyme, baked in Ina Garten’s pear tatin or her silky clafouti, or luscious in a pear and gorgonzola tart.

    Thanks for all the great ideas and information, I’ll be looking out for these new varieties.

  13. Kevin says:

    I am going to have to keep an eye for these pears at the farmers market here in Toronto. They sound good. I enjoy pears simply caramelized in some butter and brown sugar or in a crisp.

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