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Josephine pears are small to medium in size and are oblong in shape with a bulbous base that tapers to a smaller, semi-crooked neck and long, slender, pale green-brown stem. The smooth skin is light green, glossy, and may have some russeting around the stem and pink blush where sunlight is most direct on the fruit. The skin also transforms from green to a green-yellow when ripe. The flesh is crisp, pale green, and moist, encasing a central fibrous core containing a few light brown, thin, and flat seeds. Josephine pears are crunchy and sweet when young and develop a soft, juicy, and tender texture with a rich, sweet flavor when ripe.
Josephine pears are available in the spring through fall in the United States, and in the winter in Australia.
Josephine pears, botanically classified as Pyrus communis, are a European variety and are members of the Rosaceae family along with peaches and apricots. Also known as Josephine de Malines, Josephine pears are one of the most popular varieties in Australia and are ideal for fresh eating. Although available in the spring and summer months in the United States, Josephine pears are known as a winter pear in Australia, where it ripens in the winter season. They are also favored by home gardeners as the trees are fairly easy to grow and are a prolific fruit bearer.
Josephine pears contain fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C.
Josephine pears are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as baking, sautéing, and poaching. They can be eaten fresh, out-of-hand, added to leafy green salads for a sweet flavor, sliced into wedges and displayed on cheese boards, or blended into smoothies and soups. Josephine pears can also be layered in sandwiches such as paninis and grilled cheese, used as a topping over pizza, or chopped with other fruits and mixed into a fruit salad. In addition to savory applications, Josephine pears can be baked into cakes, muffins, crisps, and bread, or poached with reduction sauces and simple syrups as a tangy dessert. Josephine pears compliment blue cheese, cheddar, and gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, garlic, onions, shallots, spinach, pomegranate seeds, strawberry, apple, meats such as pork, lamb, and poultry, and herbs and spices such as oregano, rosemary, parsley, mint, cinnamon, allspice, and honey. They will keep 1-2 months when stored in the refrigerator and up to a week when stored at room temperature.
Josephine pears, short for Josephine de Malines pears, earned their name after the wife of breeder Major Esperen, Josephine, and the town they were created in, Malines, in Belgium in the 1830s. Josephine pears were also given the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden of Merit award in 1993 which recognizes outstanding produce that is evaluated on flavor, texture, and ease of growth.
Josephine pears are native to Belgium and were found as a chance seedling in the early 1800s. Fruit grower Major Esperen from Malines, Belgium, discovered the seedling and began cultivating the new variety in 1830. Today Josephine pears can be found at farmers markets and specialty grocers and are cultivated in Europe, Asia, the United States, and Australia.
Recipes that include Josephine Pears. One is easiest, three is harder.
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