Even though they might look like apples, Pears are much more than meets the eye. Did you know that there are literally thousands of types of pear trees around the world? Or that they provide an essential source of nutrition and can even help boost immunity? Get ready to have your mind blown with fascinating facts about this delicious fruit!
From their scientific name to their unique health benefits, pears certainly have a lot going on under their smooth skin. Plus, you’ll have plenty of fun trivia questions for future family game nights! So whether you’re hoping to surprise your kids with a scientific fact about pears or simply share some intel among friends, these 25 pear facts will come in handy.
Read on to be amazed!
1. Pears have originated from Southeastern Europe
Pears were a snack-time favorite of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Originating in Southeastern Europe, these juicy fruits were all the hype back in the 7th century.
In fact, the famous ancient Greek author Homer, best known for The Odyssey, even went as far as to call them the gift of the gods. Thousands of years later, even though we aren’t all fans of The Odyssey, we still agree with Homer on this.
2. Pears belong to the Rose family!
Even though pears and roses don’t look like they’re related in any way, they both belong to the Rosaceae family!
Pears are related to apples, quince, and loquats. They are members of the rose family, along with almonds, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, and strawberries.
3. There are two distinct groups of pears
Although there are many varieties of pears, they can be classified into two categories on the basis of their region of origin: Asian (Oriental) Pears and European (Occidental) Pears.
The Oriental Pears are primarily grown in China and Japan, while Italy and Spain contribute the most Occidental Pears.
On the other hand, the European Pears are the ones that generally come to mind when we hear the word pear: smooth-skinned and curvy with a round bottom and slightly elongated top. Asian Pears are somewhat different, with an apple-like structure and relatively rough skin.
4. There are around 3,000 cultivars of pears
The Asian (Oriental) Pears and the European (Occidental) Pears are further divided into about 3,000 cultivars, each modified to better suit our needs and wants.
Anjou and Bosc Pears are the most commonly consumed varieties; the pears on your dining table are probably Bosc Pears.
5. Pears are one of the oldest cultivated fruits
Since pears have been around for so long, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are one of the oldest fruits cultivated by humans. The first official mention of pear cultivation in history goes back to 5,000 BC. A Chinese diplomat, Feng Li, gave up his powerful position to pursue full-time commercial pear cultivation.
6. China is the largest pear-producing country in the world
Since the cultivation of Oriental Pears began in China, it’s only fair that the country should produce the highest number of pears worldwide, right?
China produced about 16.5 million metric tons of pear in the year 2020! Italy and United States are second and third among the largest pear-producing countries list, but their combined production is less than China’s.
7. Pears have great cultural significance among the Chinese
Fruits were our companions long before we could even talk or walk. Their influence is so strong that some fruits have significance in religions and cultures around the world.
For example, pears symbolize immortality in Chinese culture and are a very common gift at family shrines. This symbolism is even depicted in Chinese art and literature from more than a thousand years ago!
8. Washington is the largest pear-producing state in the United States
Six main states in the United States produce almost the entirety of the country’s global pear contribution: Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, New York, California, and Michigan.
The largest pear-producing state in the United States is Washington, with almost 300,000 million tons of pears to its name!
9. “Kelseyville” is the Pear Capital of the world!
Also called Pear-adise in Lake County, Kelseyville was dubbed the Pear Capital of the World by USA Today.
The town hosts an annual Kelseyville Pear Festival, with several activities like Wine and Beer, Family Fun, Community Event, Live Music, and much more!
The festival is held on the last Saturday of every September, in case you’d like to join in this year.
10. The heaviest pear in the world weighs over 6 pounds!
If you were to guess, how much would you say the average pear weighs? The answer is approximately 6 ounces. Was your guess close?
Well, even if it was, you’d never be able to guess how heavy the heaviest pear in the world is: 6 pounds and 8 ounces (2.94 kilograms). That’s almost the weight of 17 medium-sized pears put together.
This pear was grown by JA Aichi Toyota Nashi Bukai, a Japanese farmer, in 2011 and was of the Agato variety, one of the largest pear varieties cultivated in the country.
11. Pear harvesting season lasts from late August to early October
Even though you can find exported and preserved pears in the markets all year round, the harvest season for pears in North America only lasts roughly two months.
It starts in late August, and the last pears are plucked in early October. You’ll still find fresh, local pears for another twenty days or so, but after that, it’s most probably exported or overripe.
California, Washington, and Oregon have a much longer harvesting period as they grow several more varieties of pears. They produce fresh pears almost all year round.
12. Pears mature and ripen even after being harvested!
Pears will continue to mature and ripen even after they are harvested. This is because they are climacteric fruit, meaning that they continue to ripen even after they are picked. Pears can be stored for a few weeks to allow them to ripen further.
Fruits like mangoes and bananas are also plucked well before ripening because their shelf life after ripening is very small. Similarly, pears must be plucked early, or they won’t ripen properly. In fact, the pears plucked when slightly immature and then ripened at room temperature taste better than those overmature at harvest.
For best results, store your fresh-brought pears for at least a week to ten days at room temperature before eating.
13. You can control the ripening of pears!
Have you ever brought fresh pears home, only to see that there’s already another batch of pears on your dining table?
Fortunately for you, there are a few tips and tricks that you can apply to speed up or slow down the ripening of pears slightly.
To speed up the ripening, place the pears next to a few bananas in a fruit bowl. On the other hand, refrigerate the pears to slow the ripening process.
14. The oldest pear tree in the world is estimated to be 458 years old!
Did you know the average pear tree can live for about 250 years, and some can live for more than 450 years? In fact, a Manchurian Pear tree in the ancient pear garden of Gansu, China, was estimated to be 458 years old in 2013! According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this exceptionally old tree is currently the oldest pear tree in the world.
15. It takes 3-10 years for a pear tree to bear fruits!
Did the average lifespan of a pear tree surprise you a bit? Well, it makes more sense when you find out that the average European pear tree doesn’t bear fruits until after 3-10 years of planting!
However, after these trees start flowering, they bear many fruits in a very short time, so it looks like the result is worth the wait after all. Asian pear trees mature a little earlier, about 3-5 years after being planted.
16. Pear wood is used in musical instruments, furniture, and kitchen appliances
Besides their fruits, pear trees have a lot to offer. Pear wood is used in manufacturing high-quality woodwind musical instruments, like the flute and the bassoon, and in furniture and woodcarving.
Moreover, it also acts as excellent firewood, giving off a fragrant aroma when burned, and is used for smoking meat and tobacco.
Pear wood is preferred for kitchen appliances like spatulas, spoons, and stirrers because it does not add color, flavor, or smell to the food. It is also resistant to warping and splintering, even after repeated soaking and drying.
17. Perry is the pear equivalent of apple cider
You’ve probably seen your mother use apple cider in desserts and might have tasted it. But did you know what it’s made of? Just fresh-pressed apples!
Apple cider has a pear equivalent, too: Perry. The fresh pears are pressed to release all that juicy, sweet goodness straight into a bottle.
The alcohol content in perry varies depending on the manufacturing company; you can find both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties in the market. If you’re going to buy some of this fruity goodness for yourself, remember that non-alcoholic perry is commonly called pear cider.
18. There are several ways to preserve and enjoy pears
There are many preservation techniques for pears to ensure that people worldwide can enjoy these fruits for the entire year.
They are canned, frozen, and added to jellies and jams. There’s also pear juice and perry, two of the most refreshing drinks for a hot summer night.
But when these fruits are in season around you, don’t eat them all straight out of hand! To fully utilize the pears’ flavor, add them to your pies, salads, cakes, smoothie bowls, and sandwiches.
19. Pears are highly nutritious fruits
Besides their sweet taste, pears are also really good for your health. Even if you’re not crazy about these fruits, try to eat at least one pear every two-three days when they are in season.
Pears are a good source of polyphenol antioxidants, which might reduce the chances of cancer and protect against oxidative damage. However, if you’re in the habit of peeling pears, it has to stop because the skin of pears contains six times more polyphenols than the flesh.
Pears are also packed with nutrients like copper, potassium, folate, and Vitamins K and C.
20. Pears relieve constipation and promote weight loss
If you suffer from constipation, eating pears regularly is a surefire way to treat it. Pears contain soluble and insoluble fibers, which promote digestive health.
A study done with 80 adults over four weeks showed that the fiber in pears relieves constipation and increases healthy gut bacteria. Again, the peel contains a substantial amount of fiber, so don’t skip out on those!
Pears have very few calories and a high fiber and water content. This combination is perfect for weight loss if consumed regularly. This is because fiber and water give a feeling of fullness in your gut, which makes you less prone to binge-eating.
And because of the low calories in pears, you can easily add two pears to your daily diet without hesitation!
21. The Asian Pear is the National Fruit of South Korea
Asian Pears are one of Asia’s favorite snacks. South Korea took this a step ahead by even naming the Asian Pear as their National Fruit!
22. Pears are the state fruit of Oregon!
In 2005, pears were declared the official state fruit of Oregon. If you think about it, it does make sense seeing how Pear is the top-selling tree fruit crop in the state. Oregon is also one of the six chief pear-producing states in the United States.
23. Renaissance painters loved drawing pears
If you’ve been to ancient museums, particularly in Rome or Greece, you must’ve noticed the occasional painted fruit bowl. Even if you haven’t, you must’ve seen a painting of a pear in your textbook or on the television.
It might look funny, but these fruit paintings have received high critical acclaim and appreciation. Their rounded shape and subtle coloring are hard to capture, and the slight shadow due to the elongated top only enhances its beauty.
As a famous example, Vincent Van Gogh has also painted pears and drawn several paintings of the flowering pear tree!
24. Pears can float on water!
Have you ever wondered whether pears can float on water? Let us first tell you that floating on the water depends on density.
If any fruit has a lower density than the density of water, it floats, or else it sinks. For example, lemons and bananas always float on water because their density is less than water’s, while avocadoes and potatoes sink in water.
Pear is one of those fruits which can either sink or float depending on how much it has ripened. A soft, fully-ripe pear will float on water, while a tight pear won’t.
25. December is celebrated as National Pear Month
Has this article piqued your interest in pears? We certainly hope so because National Pear Month isn’t going to wait for anyone!
These juicy, flavorful fruits are celebrated annually for the entire month of December. One of the best ways to celebrate pears is to incorporate them into the most basic recipes in new and innovative ways.
For instance, if you like pineapples on your pizza (don’t worry, we are not the judgmental sort), you’d love pears on your pizza.
Turkey leftovers are a common scene in most households during the holiday season. This year, wow your friends and cousins with the most amazing turkey cranberry sandwich by just adding a few slices of pear in there. Trust us; you won’t regret it.
Check out online forums and subreddits to learn unique and interesting facts about pears during National Pear Month!