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Beurre Alexander Pears
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Beurre Alexander pears are large, bulbous fruits with a round to conical, curved shape. The skin is semi-smooth, firm, and thin, ripening from green to yellow, and there is some russeting found on the shoulders around the fibrous stem. Underneath the surface, the flesh is crisp, white, slightly grainy, and aqueous, encasing a slender, central core. Beurre Alexander pears have an aromatic, perfumed fragrance and develop a soft texture with a melting-like quality when ripe. The flesh also bears a very sweet flavor with subtle acidic notes.
Beurre Alexander pears are available for a limited season in the winter through early spring.
Beurre Alexander pears, botanically classified as Pyrus communis, are a French variety that belongs to the Rosaceae family. The cultivar is considered to be a specialty dessert pear found across Europe and is highly valued for its soft flesh and sweet flavor. The word beurre translates from French to mean “butter,” which is a reference to the flesh’s tender consistency, and many other French varieties may be labeled in markets with this same descriptor. Beurre Alexander pears are also known as Beurre Alexander Lucas pears, Alexander Lucas pears, and Alex Lucas pears in local markets in Europe. Though the variety is well-known for its flavor and texture among pear enthusiasts, Beurre Alexander Lucas pears are somewhat challenging to find in commercial markets and are primarily grown in home gardens.
Beurre Alexander pears are a good source of fiber, which can help aid in digestion, and also contain vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. The pears also provide some copper, potassium, and vitamin K.
Beurre Alexander pears are best suited for raw consumption as their soft and juicy flesh is showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand. The pears can be sliced and served with cheeses, fruits, and nuts on an appetizer plate, sliced and tossed into green and fruit salads, layered into sandwiches, or quartered and paired with chocolate, whipped cream, or ice cream as a sweet dessert. The mild flavor of Beurre Alexander pears compliments cheeses such as gorgonzola, brie, roquefort, blue, and cheddar, arugula, radicchio, spinach, rosemary, ginger, honey, wine, and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and pecans. The fresh fruits will keep for a couple of days at room temperature and once ripe, the fruits should be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep for 1-2 weeks.
Beurre Alexander pears are mostly associated with France, but the soft fruits are also grown in the Rio Negro Valley of Argentina, which is one of the top regions for pear cultivation in South America. The valley is known for the Rio Negro River, and many farmers have built irrigation channels from the river to provide a steady water supply for the pear trees. The valley is also known for its warm days and cold nights, providing an extended growing season to grow an ample amount of pears for export. In the past few decades, the Rio Negro Valley has globally established itself and has numerous exporting agreements with other countries such as the United States, but despite its success, the cities in the valley have remained rather small. To encourage expansion and growth, a National Pear Festival was established in 1999 to increase the visibility of the region and to create a safe space for locals to learn about the agricultural opportunities happening in the valley. The festival is held annually in the city of Allen, and activities include touring the orchards, hand-picking fruit, live entertainment, beauty pageants, and variety tastings.
Beurre Alexander pears are native to France and were first discovered in the 1870s by Alexander Lucas. The pears were found growing in a forest in the Loire-et-Cher region, near Blois, France, and were later imported into the United Kingdom in 1892. Beurre Alexander pears were also introduced to New York in the United States in the late 1890s, but the variety never became commercially successful in the western markets. Today Beurre Alexander pears are a specialty variety grown across Europe and are sold through local markets in the Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom. They are also cultivated and exported from the Rio Negro Valley in Argentina and are available in limited quantities through select growers and online seed catalogs in the United States.