Seckel pears, classified scientifically as Pyrus communis, are a type of pear that can be consumed whole or added to salads as a garnish or flavoring. Other uses include pickling or infusing in pear brandy with additional flavor. A cousin of apples, pears can be purchased in cans or canned at home.
Pears grown in America were first raised from seed. This resulted in variations as pears, like apples, do not grow consistently when produced from seed. This resulted in many pears, including Seckel pears, being classified as uniquely American because they contain substantial differences in flavor and appearance than their European counterparts.
Seckel pears are usually fairly small in comparison to standard pears, with some small enough to be consumed in two or three bites. They are typically either green with a maroon blush or completely red. Seckel pears are most readily available August through to January.
Seckel pears should be eaten only when ripe. You can tell they are ripe when they become soft on the skin around the stem end. Seckel pears that are hard when purchased should be ripened at room temperature in a dark, cool environment. Once ripe, they can be stored in the refrigerator to help prolong their freshness.
Seckel pears are named after a farmer from Pennsylvania who discovered the fruit in the early 19th century. Seckel pears are hybrids, sharing characteristics of both European and Asian pears. The Seckel pear is sometimes referred to as a "sugar pear" due to its distinct sweetness.
As well as being low in fat, Seckel pears are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C. Seckel pairs, which have about 100 calories each, are also free of cholesterol and sodium. Seckel pears that have hard and soft areas or those with cuts that reach deep into the pear should be avoided as these are likely to have lost their freshness and some nutritional value.
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