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Duchess pears are medium to large-sized fruits that have a globular, oval, bulbous, to ovate shape, depending on the individual variety and whether it is classified as a summer or winter pear. Summer Duchess pears have thin, light green to yellow skin with prominent lenticels, while Winter Duchess pears have smooth, yellow skin with light pink to red blushing. Underneath the skin, both types of pears have an aqueous, cream-colored to white, soft flesh. Duchess pears, when ripe, are highly aromatic with a sweet, honey-like taste mixed with subtle tangy notes.
Duchess pears are available in the late summer through winter.
Duchess pears, botanically classified as Pyrus communis, are a very sweet and flavorful variety that belongs to the Rosaceae family. Native to the United Kingdom, Duchess pears are an easy-to-grow cultivar known for their juicy nature, large fruits, and vibrant flavor. There are two main types of Duchess pears defined by their harvesting times, labeled as summer and winter pears, and within these types, there are multiple varieties with varying flavors, sizes, and coloring. When found in markets, the pears may be labeled generally as Duchess, or they may be labeled by their specific variety name. Duchess pears are considered a versatile pear used as both a canning and dessert variety, and they are one of the more popular varieties found in European and Central Asian markets.
Duchess pears are a good source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can help protect the immune system and fiber, which can help improve digestion. The pears also contain some vitamin A, calcium, iron, and other antioxidants to support overall health and repair of bodily tissues and organs.
Duchess pears are a multipurpose cultivar, suitable for both raw and cooked applications such as baking and simmering. Summer Duchess pears are showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand as a dessert variety, and the flesh can be sliced and mixed into fruit bowls, tossed into green salads, or sliced and topped over porridges, cereals, ice cream, and sorbet. The pears can also be blended into juices, carbonated beverages, and smoothies, or made into wine. Winter Duchess pears can be cooked into jams, jellies, and compotes, infused into syrups and honey, made into a compote, or baked into pies, tarts, and cobblers. They can also be used in salads, served with cooked meats, or incorporated into soups. Duchess pears pair well with fruits such as apples, grapes, plums, cranberries, and cherries, nuts such as walnuts and cashews, cheeses such as blue cheese, cheddar, and gorgonzola, and meats such as pork and poultry. The fresh pears will keep for two weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
In Russia, Duchess pears are used in a popular carbonated beverage known as Duchess soda or lemonade. The drink was created in the 1930s as a part of a new line of carbonated beverages, and the sweet, slightly acidic drink is made out of sparkling water mixed with pear-infused syrup, lemon juice, and sugar. Duchess beverages are often sold in bottles through vendors across the major cities in Russia, and some locals believe the drink can help increase digestion. There are also Duchess pear hard candies that are flavored with the fruit. The candy’s wrappers are also patterned with pictures of the pear.
Duchess pears are native to the United Kingdom, where they were created by a well-known English breeder named D. Wheeler in the late 18th century. After its development, Duchess pears were distributed across Europe with the help of V. Williams and were featured at exhibitions to promote the new variety. Williams became highly associated with the pear, and one type was even named after him. Over time, pear cultivation also expanded into Asia, and today Duchess pears are grown throughout Europe, in regions of Central Asia, and across Russia. The Duchess pears pictured in the photograph above were discovered at the Green Market in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Recipes that include Duchess Pears. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Maggie Beer||Sparkling Chardonnay, Orange Blossom & Pear Mocktail|