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Conference pears are medium to large in size and have a narrow, rounded base that tapers to a long and thin neck connecting to a green-brown stem. The mottled, thick skin is green with patches of brown russeting and transforms into a pale yellow when ripe. The flesh is ivory to cream-colored, sometimes with a pink tinge, and has a fine-grained, soft, and moist texture. When ripe, Conference pears are crisp and juicy with a melting consistency and have a sweet flavor with subtle notes of perfume.
Conference pears are available in the mid-fall through winter.
Conference pears, botanically classified as Pyrus communis, are a European variety that are members of the Rosaceae family along with apples, peaches, and apricots. Discovered as an open pollinated seedling in England, Conference pears are also known as Belgium pears in respect to its native Belgium parent variety the leon leclerc de laval pear. Conference pears are favored for their unique, slender shape and smooth texture, and are often regarded as one of the most well-known all-purpose pears in the British Isles. They are also exported to many countries in Asia because of their long storage capabilities.
Conference pears contain vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and calcium.
Conference pears are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as baking, roasting, and poaching. They can be served fresh out-of-hand in leafy green salads, in fruit salads, sliced on top of pancakes, oatmeal, and pudding, or displayed on a cheese plate. Conference pears can also be poached in wine and citrus zest or simple syrup, baked on a pizza, blended in smoothies with ginger, roasted in warm spices, or baked in a tart or cheesecake. Conference pears compliment walnuts, almonds, pecans, ginger, garlic, onion, smoked fish, bacon, ham, blue cheese, and kale. These pears need time to ripen and can be placed on the counter for up to 3-4 weeks. Conference pears can also be stored up to two months in the refrigerator.
Conference pears were named after the International Pear Conference that was held in 1885 in England. This was the place that the new variety was debuted, and it ended up winning first prize at the conference. Conference pears then went on to win an Award of Merit in 1993 from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Conference pears were discovered in 1884 by Thomas Frances Rivers, a well-known farmer and chairman of the pear conference, at his nursery in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire in England. Conference pears are derived from the Belgium leon Leclerc de laval pear and were debuted and recognized as a new variety at the International Pear Conference in 1885. Today Conference pears are grown in Belgium, the Netherlands, England, and in some parts of France and the United States. They can be found at farmers markets and specialty grocers and are also exported to China, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Recipes that include Conference Pears. One is easiest, three is harder.