Farmers market report: Asian pears are in season (with recipes)

Kosui Asian pears spotted at the Santa Monica farmers market in early August.
(Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times)
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What’s in season: Sometimes referred to as the apple pear, there are over 100 varieties of Asian pears, with many of the original California plantings started by Japanese immigrants a century or more ago. The season generally extends from August well into October, and, similar to apples, varieties vary extensively in color, shape and flavor. Some varieties we spotted recently include crisp Twentieth Century, with flavors reminiscent of citrus and apple; Kosui, which is lightly sweet with hints of vanilla; sweet and fragrant Hosui; and juicy Yali, which is softer than most other Asian pears.

What to cook: Asian pears are great just eaten out of hand, or you can slice them and add them to salads or cheese platters. Or add them to tarts or bake the pears into crumbles, complementing the subtle flavors with cinnamon or nutmeg. The pears also work well added to savory dishes, sauteed, pureed, or even roasted, and served alongside pork or duck.

What’s on the horizon: Bunches of fresh dates, often still on the stalks, are at select markets for the next few weeks. Slightly softened and sweet, they have a crunch similar to an apple. Look for fresh dates that are fully ripened, as unripe dates have a tendency to be bitter.


Click on the photo gallery below for some of our favorite Asian pear recipes:


Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes | Serves 6


2 cups (4 sticks) butter, ice cold and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 cups powdered sugar

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

4 3/4 cups flour

1. Beat butter and powdered sugar on medium speed in electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl.

2. Add yolks 1 at a time with mixer on low speed. Add cream and mix at medium speed 1 minute. Turn off mixer and add flour. Mix on low speed until combined. Do not over mix.

3. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.


1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in bowl and stir until there are no lumps. Set aside.



1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, plus extra for greasing tart shells

Flour for dusting tart shells

2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream

3 to 5 Asian pears, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1. Butter and flour 12 (4 1/2-inch) or 2 (10-inch) tart shells. Remove 1 piece of Sweet Dough from refrigerator and roll out 1/4 inch thick. If making individual tarts, cut dough into 6-inch rounds. Line tart shells with dough, trimming any excess dough even with edge of tart shell. Repeat with remaining piece of dough.

2. Fill each tart shell half way with Brown Sugar Filling. For individual tarts, dot each with 1 teaspoon butter in pieces and spoon on 3 tablespoons cream. Arrange 1/4 to 1/2 Asian pear, depending on size of fruit, on each tart. Bake at 325 degrees until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

3. For 10-inch tarts, dot each with 2 tablespoons butter in pieces and spoon on 9 tablespoons cream. Arrange Asian pear slices on each tart. Bake at 325 degrees until golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes.

Each serving: 1,737 calories; 758 mg sodium; 459 mg cholesterol; 110 grams fat; 158 grams carbohydrates; 15 grams protein; 0.29 gram fiber.

Love cooking as much as I do? Follow me @noellecarter



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