In season in Northern California: Late August through December.
How to choose good pears: Look for pears that are firm, but not too hard. They should have a smooth skin that is free of bruises or mold. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, the color of good quality pears may not be uniform, and in fact many have brown-speckled patches on the skin; “this is an acceptable characteristic and often times reflects a more intense flavor. Avoid pears that are punctured or have dark soft spots.” Unlike apples, most pear varieties do not ripen nicely while still on the tree. Pears that are allowed to become too mature or to ripen on the tree develop a coarse, mealy texture and often have core breakdown.
Taste: Meg Ryan described it best in the movie “City of Angels.” “Sweet, juicy. Soft on your tongue. Grainy, like sugar sand that dissolves in your mouth.”
Health benefits: A 2011 article published by the American Heart Association reports that eating one pear a day can reduce your risk of stroke by as much as 52 percent.