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Kieffer pears are medium to large in size and are elongated in shape with a wide bottom that tapers into a smaller, rounded neck. The semi-smooth skin is light yellow to pale green with prominent lenticels and deep red blush, and the stem is slender and dark brown. The cream-colored to ivory flesh is coarse, crisp, and firm with a central core encasing a few dark brown seeds. Kieffer pears are described as having a musky aroma and are juicy with a mild, sweet flavor.
Kieffer pears are available in the fall through winter.
Kieffer pears, botanically classified as a cross between the European bartlett pear, Pyrus communis, and the Asian sand pear, Pyrus pyrifolia, is an old American variety that is a member of the Rosaceae family along with apricots and apples. Kieffer pears were once a popular variety to plant in orchards and use as property lines for farms, but due to modern day consumer preferences, it has decreased in demand. Growing up to six meters in height, Kieffer pear trees are resistant to disease, prolific, hardy, and have a long life. Kieffer pears require a chilling period which allows the fruit to ripen over a period of time and are classified as a winter pear used for canning, baking, and fresh eating.
Kieffer pears contain vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber.
Kieffer pears are best suited for raw applications, cooked applications such as baking and poaching, and canning. They are most commonly used in preserved or canned preparations when their flesh is still firm and holds its shape well. They can also be used in sauces with honey, sugar, or lemon to enhance the sweet flavor. Kieffer pears can be used in baked applications such as cakes, tarts, pies, muffins, bread, and popovers. They can also be used as a dessert pear if allowed to ripen for several weeks. Unlike other common pears, Kieffer pears need a period of chilling before they are ready to be consumed fresh. The pears are harvested while hard on the tree and are put in the fridge or cool storage area. After storage, the pears will begin to soften and can be sliced fresh for a mild, sweet flavor. Kieffer pears will keep for several weeks when stored in a cool and dry place or several months when stored in the refrigerator.
Many old homesteads used to plant pear trees as signs of luck and to help determine property lines. They were also used as a source of food to sustain the family living on the homestead during the winter months. As supermarkets increased in popularity, ripe food became readily available, and the consumer market turned to desire immediate gratification rather than individual cultivation. As a result, many Kieffer pear trees were abandoned as the fruit requires a chilling period and were not instantly ready for consumption. Many abandoned farms and homesteads still stand today, but despite the lack of use, many Kieffer pear trees still survive due to their hardy nature, marking the spot where a family used to live.
Kieffer pear trees are native to the region surrounding Philadelphia and were first recorded at Peter Kieffer’s fruit nursery in the 1870s. Kieffer pears formed from an accidental cross between a sand pear and a bartlett pear and were cultivated for its firm flesh. Today Kieffer pear trees grow in a remarkable range of climates because of its hardiness, ranging from New England to the southern United States, and are predominately found at farmers markets and specialty growers in the United States and Canada.
Recipes that include Kieffer Pears. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Roasted Root||Pear Apple Cheddar Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Bagel Sandwich|
|Recipe Runner||Prosciutto Wrapped Pears with Blue Cheese|