Market Fresh: Asian pears

Asian pears
(David Karp)

Little known not so long ago, Asian pears have become very popular, particularly at farmers markets. You can find as many as nine or 10 different varieties. 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.