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Brederode pears are round to oval fruits with a short, flattened, and lopsided appearance. The skin is semi-rough and firm, ripening from green to yellow, and is covered in patches of brown russet. Underneath the surface, the flesh is dense, grainy, crisp, and white, encasing a central core that connects to a thick and fibrous, brown stem. Brederode pears are considered to be unpalatable when raw due to their firm flesh and bland flavor. The pears are commonly stewed with sugar or red wine, and once cooked, the flesh softens and absorbs the sweet, accompanying flavors.
Brederode pears are available in the fall and can be stored through the spring.
Brederode pears, botanically classified as Pyrus communis, are a Dutch variety that belongs to the Rosaceae family. Considered to be an older cultivar first discovered in the early 19th century, Brederode pears were once a famous culinary variety primarily used for stewing in the Netherlands. There were multiple varieties of Brederode pears that were popularly used as cooking cultivars, and the pears were favored for their extended storage capabilities and the ability to hold their shape through high-heat applications. In the modern-day, Brederode pears have been overshadowed by newer varieties of culinary pears and are rare to find in commercial markets, mostly reserved to home gardens and specialty farms.
Brederode pears are a good source of fiber, which can help regulate digestion, and also contain potassium, iron, calcium, folate, and vitamin C.
Brederode pears are best suited for cooked applications as their firm and dry flesh are unpalatable when raw. The pears are popularly stewed and are slowly cooked in syrups, wine, and spices such as cloves and cinnamon to create a soft, sweet, and juicy texture. In the Netherlands, Brederode pears are used in stoofpeertjes or Dutch stewed cinnamon pears. These pears are cooked with lime rind, cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, black currant liqueur, and red wine to create a dish that can be used as a side or as a dessert served with ice cream. The neutral flavor of Brederode pears compliments honey, ginger, red wine, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark chocolate, rose syrup, lemon juice, and orange juice. The fresh fruits will keep for 1-3 months when stored in a cold and dark place, such as the refrigerator.
Brederode pears are one of the varieties traditionally used in Limburg syrup, which was a preservation method widely used by farmers in the 16th century. The syrup was composed of approximately sixty percent pears and forty percent apples, and farmers in Limburg, which is a region on the border of Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, carefully crafted batches of the sweet liquid to use the remaining fruit harvest before the winter season. Limburg syrup quickly became a popular spread throughout the villages and was favored for its storage capabilities, with some farms storing hundreds of pounds of syrup each year. With increased production, the crafting of the syrup switched from farmers to artisans known as stroppstokers, and the syrup became known as stroop, becoming completely industrialized through large corporations and factories for commercial sale in the 20th century. Despite the syrup’s success, many of the fruit orchards supplying the apples and pears were shut-down due to land development, forcing many of the businesses to close. In the modern-day, there is a small group of stroppstokers still found in Limburg who have banded together to preserve old varieties such as the Brederode in private orchards to continue the syrup’s traditional recipe. Limburg syrup is commonly used as a spread and is layered over pastries, bread, and pancakes.
Brederode pears were created in the early 19th century by the Belgian plant breeder and professor Dr. Van Mons. The variety was selectively bred in Dr. Van Mon’s research nurseries, and once released to the market, the variety became a favorite cooking pear in the Netherlands. Today Brederode pears are a rare variety that is primarily found through specialty growers in Europe, especially in Belgium and the Netherlands. The pears are also sold through online seed catalogs for home garden use.