I grew up in North Dallas, close to a vast field of grass where LBJ now runs. In those days, it wasn’t uncommon to find fruit trees growing near creeks, which made finding a quick (free) afternoon snack a breeze. Most of the families in my neighborhood grew plums, persimmons, figs, and pears.
If the squirrels or kids didn’t pilfer them from the trees, my mother would harvest what was left and either can the fruit or create a pie, cobbler, or fresh fruit salad. I still remember the juice of a sweet, late-summer pear dripping down my arm. Even if I picked it early and there was still some snap to the bell-shaped fruit, the indulgence was always special. When September would roll around each year, my mother would slather homemade pear jam on a piece of toast or a waffle for breakfast, then pack one in my lunchbox to take with me to school.
As Dallas grew and landscape architects pulled up fruit trees, replacing them with less-messy designer trees, my mother bought late-season pears at the grocery store. Fast-forward to current day, and you don’t need me to tell you how many pear choices crowd the produce bins in local markets. High-end grocery stores are stocked with local or exotic pears from August through May.
Beyond their virtue as a delicious fruit, they also make pleasing home decor accessories. It’s tempting to select pears based solely on color and keep them in a bowl as a centerpiece. But pears stored at room temperature ripen fast. If a visual presentation is important to you, vary the varieties so you can use them for different purposes as they mature.