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Black Worcester Pears
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Black Worcester pears are medium to large in size, averaging seven centimeters in diameter and eight centimeters in length, and are irregularly oval in shape. The skin has a green to a dark red base and is covered in russeting connecting to a dark brown, slender stem. The flesh is cream-colored with a hint of pale green just under the skin and is very firm and gritty with a central core. When first picked, Black Worcester pears are bitter, hard, and sharp and must be stored for 4-6 months. When cooked, the pear becomes soft and mild in flavor.
Black Worcester pears are available in the mid-fall through spring.
Black Worcester pears, botanically classified as Pyrus communis, grow on trees that can reach over fifteen meters in height and are members of the Rosaceae family along with apples and peaches. Also known as the Warden pear and the Iron pear, Black Worcester pears are one of the oldest varieties in existence today. Originally from England, Black Worcester pears are known for their long storage capabilities and are not consumed fresh but are used in baking. This variety is not commercially cultivated and is predominately found in private orchards. The trees are also used as an ornamental because they bear many white flowers in the spring and can offer protection from the wind for other smaller trees in orchards.
Black Worcester pears contain some vitamin C, calcium, and dietary fiber.
Black Worcester pears are best suited for cooked applications such as baking. When raw, these pears are bitter, hard, and gritty, but when cooked, the flesh becomes soft, juicy, and sweet. Black Worcester pears are often served stewed or are cooked in syrup to increase flavor. They are also commonly stuffed and baked in chocolate sauces or baked in desserts such as pies, tarts, and pastries. Black Worcester pears compliment flavors of sturgeon, venison, beef, quail, pork, leeks, onion, garlic, almonds, vanilla, maple syrup, and chocolate. They can be stored 4-7 months in a cool and dark place and do not have to be stored in the refrigerator.
Black Worcester pears have been a symbol of the city of Worcester and the surrounding countryside for many centuries. It is believed that in 1575, a pear tree was moved to the front of a gate that Queen Elizabeth was going to be passing through to add beauty to her view. Queen Elizabeth saw the Black Worcester tree, enjoyed the pears and decided to place the pears onto the city’s coat of arms. The Worcester coat of arms still bears this pear today, along with the county council crest and the badges of the city's cricket and rugby teams.
The exact origin of the Black Worcester pear is unknown, but it is believed to have been introduced to the United Kingdom by the Romans and was first recorded by the monks at the Abbey of Warden in Bedfordshire as early as 1388. Today, Black Worcester pears are not grown commercially, but trees are available for propagation at many nurseries in England. They can also be found through select farmers markets and specialty grocers in Europe and the United States.
Recipes that include Black Worcester Pears. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Visit Worcestershire||Baked Black Pear|
|The Circus Gardener's Kitchen||Almond Stuffed Pears with Chocolate Sauce|