Fresh, dried or canned, pears provide versatile appeal for the home orchardist. European pears are buttery, soft and sweet when fully ripe. A nice contrast in character are Asian pears which are crunchy like apples, but mouth watering in a uniquely flavored juice.
Asian Pears Pyrus pyrifolia
These pears are well suited to hot climates, and are handsome espaliered. They have been called the apple pear, but in spite of the fact that they are crisp when ripe, their texture and flavor is different from apples. They are juicy and crisp, usually with a milder flavor. Unlike European pears, they should be allowed to ripen on the tree. Most varieties will bear some fruit by themselves, but yield will increase with a pollinizer. They need slightly less chill than European pears.
European Pears Pyrus communis
Perhaps a quote from Edward Bunyard's Anatomy of Dessert will give a hint: "The pear must be approached, as its feminine nature indicates, with discretion and reverence; it withholds its secrets from the merely hungry." While European pears are more popular, there is growing appreciation of Asian pears. When to pick? European pears are ready to pick when the stem separates easily as the pears are tipped up from the branch. They should then be ripened in a cool, dark place. Asian pears are ready to harvest fresh off the tree. Pears have a lower chilling requirement than apples, about 600 hours, with Comice and Seckel needing less. All European pears are better picked a little green and ripened off the tree.