Passe Crassane Pears
Inventory, lb : 0
Passe Crassane pears are medium to large in size and have a round to bulbous shape with a semi-thin, dark brown stem. In the marketplace, the stems are also typically sold covered in a glossy, red wax to prevent moisture loss. The smooth, thin skin is marbled with hues of green and light brown and is covered in small, prominent lenticels. Underneath the skin, the white flesh is slightly grainy, soft, and juicy with a central fibrous core running the length of the fruit containing a few seeds or being completely seedless. Passe Crassane pears are aromatic with a floral and fruity fragrance and have a crisp, melting texture with a sweet-tart flavor.
Passe Crassane pears are available in the winter through spring.
Passe Crassane pears, botanically classified as Pyrus communis ‘Passe Crassane,’ grow on small trees in temperate climates and are members of the Rosaceae or rose family. Known as a winter pear and rumored to be a cross between an unknown pear variety and a quince, Passe Crassane pears were first developed in Rouen, France around 1855 and are one of the few varieties that ripen late into the spring. Passe Crassane pears do not ripen on the tree but are harvested and stored for 6-7 months to develop a softer texture and fragrant aroma. Once popular in the 1800s and used as a parent variety for breeding new types of pears, Passe Crassane pears are somewhat rare in the present commercial market but are favored as a specialty variety for their crisp, grainy flesh, and are used in both raw and cooked culinary applications.
Passe Crassane pears contain some vitamin C, iron, and fiber.
Passe Crassane pears are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as baking, roasting, and poaching. The fruit’s crisp but tender texture mixed with its sweet-tart flavor lends itself well to raw applications and can be served sliced, fresh out-of-hand for snacking, tossed into leafy green salads, fruit salads, or displayed on cheese plates. Passe Crassane pears can also be sliced over oatmeal such as Bircher muesli, topped on pancakes, garnished over pudding, or layered in sandwiches. In addition to fresh applications, Passe Crassane pears can be poached in wine or a winter citrus syrup, cooked into mulled wine, or baked into desserts such as almond tarts and lemon shortbread. Passe Crassane pears pair well with crème fraiche, chocolate, hazelnut, ginger, violet, lemon, walnuts, almonds, pecans, garlic, onion, smoked fish, bacon, and ham. The fruits will keep for 3-5 days at room temperature and a couple of weeks when stored in the refrigerator. This storage time may fluctuate depending on how long the individual fruit has been stored prior to reaching the market.
Passe Crassane pears were at one time one of the most popular late varieties in Italy and France and were often imported to Germany and England to be sold as luxury fruit. With the variety’s late ripening, the stems of the fruit are coated in a bright red sealing wax by hand to prevent moisture loss. This wax has become a symbol of the variety and is still used on the pears grown in France and Italy today. Though Passe Crassane pears were popular in the 1800s, they have recently declined in production due to their susceptibility to diseases such as blight. The blight outbreak affected the trees so much that in 1994, France decided to ban new plantings of Passe Crassane trees in order to help contain the disease. Today there are still some small commercial farms that cultivate Passe Crassane pears, but the variety is rare to find outside of Europe.
Passe Crassane pears were developed and planted in 1845 by Louis Boisbunel in Rouen, France, which is the capital of the region of Normandy, and the first fruits were harvested in 1855. After its introduction, the variety was grown in Italy, Spain, and France and imported to England and Germany, where it became a popular luxury fruit. In the 20th century, Passe Crassane pears largely fell out of favor due to blight and were confined to be grown in only existing orchards. Today Passe Crassane pears are still grown on a small scale in Northern Italy and Southern France and can be found at local markets in Europe. The variety is also grown in home gardens in California of the United States.