You still won't see them all that often at your corner grocery, but at farmers markets, Asian pears have become very popular. Choose the right farmer and you might find as many as nine or 10 different varieties.
They start being harvested in late August, but they're really coming into prime season now. Some late-season favorites include: Shinseiki, which has a very crisp texture and a flavor like honey, walnuts and flowers; 20th Century, another crisp pear that tastes like a sparkling combination of apples and citrus; Kosui, which has a vanilla undertone; and Chojuro, a buttery Japanese pear with a caramel sweetness.
How to choose: Asian pears feel hard as rocks, but they actually bruise quite easily. Russet varieties should be deep golden brown; smooth-skinned round fruit should be yellow, not green, and smooth-skinned pear-shaped fruit will be pale green.
How to store: Asian pears need to be refrigerated.
How to prepare: You can cook Asian pears, but they are probably at their best eaten out of hand, to appreciate their delicate flavor. Nonetheless, we've included a few choice recipes in case you feel so inclined -- including, of all things, one of the winners of this year's hamburger cook-off!