Bosc pears are a large variety with a long curved stem and an elongated neck that gradually ends in a rounded bottom; a “true pear” shape. Bosc pears have a golden russet-colored skin. The creamy, off-white flesh is tender yet crisp with an intense honeyed aroma. Bosc pears have a pleasantly sweet flavor with hints of fall spices. The flesh of a Bosc pear may be dense, but it is also quite juicy. To check for ripeness, press the base of the stem to see if the flesh gives a bit. Bosc pears will ‘give’ slightly less than other pear varieties. Occasional wrinkling can be found at the base of the stem when Bosc pears are ripe. These European pears are typically achieved full flavor and juiciness earlier in the ripening process than most other pears and can be enjoyed before the flesh softens.
Bosc pears are a winter variety of Pyrus communis, commonly known as the European pear.
For centuries artists have chosen Bosc pears for their paintings and drawings because of their true pear shape and unique warm, russet skin.
Bosc pears are known throughout Europe by many different names, those names carried with them around the world. The shapely pears are known as Beurré Bosc for their ‘buttery’ flavor and Calabasse Bosc for its gourd-like shape, they are also called Kaiser Alexander in some countries.
Bosc pears can be enjoyed fresh, baked or even dried. When eaten fresh, they are best at room temperature. A common misconception is that Bosc pears must be peeled or cooked before being consumed, which is neither true nor necessary. Bosc pears stand up to cooking and retain their shape, making them ideal for tarts, pies and poaching. Grill halved Bosc pears and top with gorgonzola cheese and chopped walnuts. The flavor of Bosc pears isn’t overwhelmed by strong spices or other flavors. Add sliced Bosc pears to salads or cheese boards, or pair with roasted meats like chicken or pork. As with other pear varieties, ripen Bosc pears at room temperature and refrigerate up to a week.
The origin of Bosc pears is not truly known, confusion exists over whether they are native to France or Belgium. It is believed that the Bosc pear was raised from a seed in 1807 Belgium by M. Bosc, the Director of the Paris Botanical Garden. He named the pear Buerré Blanc, for its buttery texture and after himself. During the early 1800’s in Europe, fruit was named for one of its characteristics (flavor, appearance) and its place of origin or the name of the person who discovered the fruit. Bosc pears are also known in some parts of Europe as Beurré d’Appremont, named for a French town. Bosc pears were first planted in the United States in the early 1830’s and were first harvested in 1836. Originally planted in the Eastern part of the country, they now thrive in Oregon and Washington State in the Pacific Northwest United States.
- If you live outside of the dry western regions, you should choose fire blight–resistant types and rootstocks.
- Plant in any fertile, well-drained soil in full sun in a place with good air circulation in the winter or early spring.
- Space standard-size trees 20 to 25 feet apart. Space dwarf trees 12 to 15 feet apart.
- For container-grown trees, remove the plant from its pot and remove any circling roots by laying the root ball on its side and using shears to cut through the roots.
- For grafted trees, position the inside of the curve of the graft union away from the sun when planting.
- Dig a hole that is a few inches deeper and wider than the spread of the roots. Set the tree on top of a small mound of soil in the middle of the hole. Be sure to spread the roots away from the trunk without excessively bending them and WATER. Do not add fertilizer or topsoil to the hole.
- Water the young trees well during dry spells to help establish the roots.
- Apply a small amount of fertilizer early in the year.
- Be very careful when applying fertilizer! If you give your trees too much nitrogen, they will become more susceptible to fire blight and also may focus too much energy on producing foliage instead of flowers and fruit.
- Prune them to a central leader system. Standard-size trees can be pruned to either a central leader system or a modified leader system, which is easier to maintain.
- The central leader system features a central trunk with branches that spiral out every 5 to 8 inches, making sure that no branch is directly above another. The training for such a system begins in the early summer of the first year, during which time you should remove any shoots that form within 18 inches of the ground. The end result should resemble a Christmas tree.
- Use spreaders to help shape the branches of the trees. These help the branches to spread outward rather than upward. When the branches are small, you can use clothespins to push the branches away from the main trunk. For bigger branches, use wooden slats with a “V” shape notched into each end.
- Prune your trees regularly, generally lightly. Remember to thin the fruit as well, leaving about 6 inches between each cluster of fruit per branch.
- After your trees are established, water them regularly.
- Fire blight
- Pear psylla
- Powdery Mildew
- Harvest pears when they are mature but still hard. Ripen the pears at room temperature for the best quality fruits.
- To store pears, pick them when they are fully grown but still very hard. You can keep them in the refrigerator; they should last for about 1 week. You can also keep them in containers in a cool (about 40°F), dark place; they should keep for 1 to 2 months.
- You can also can the pears for longer storage.