All About the Bartlett Pear
The green pear that is regularly seen on supermarket shelves is called a Bartlett Pear. It’s the only pear with which many Americas are familiar. The Bartlett Pear came from England, where it was developed in the seventeenth century by John Stair, a school teacher. He gave some pear seedlings to someone named Williams (Mr. Williams), who was responsible for its continued development. The pear was brought to the U.S. by Quakers. In England, this pear continues to be known as a “Williams Pear,” and is used in making the brandy, Poire William.
Once in the United States, the pear started out on the East Coast, and was distributed by a man named Enoch Bartlett, who lived in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He did not know the pear had been named in England, and began distribution under his own name, Bartlett. Thus, the Bartlett Pear was born! As settlers moved farther and farther west, the pear went with them. The Bartlett Pear finally made it to California during the California Gold Rush. Once in California, the Bartlett Pear had just the right temperature for prolific growth.
The tree that produces the Bartlett Pear, doesn’t have fruit for the first five to seven years. Then it remains productive for anywhere from fifty to one hundred years. Pears, like several other fruits, are part of the rose family. The Bartlett Pear is self-pollinating. It likes well-fertilized soil, cool nights and nice, warm days. The pear likes plenty of water and will not grow well or produce fruit in drought conditions. It is also part of a variety known as European pears. The fruit grows to be yellow, quite large, with white flesh that has kind of a grainy texture. The Bartlett Pear is always handpicked when green and then shipped. It is best ripened at home. Handpicking is necessary because the fruit bruises quite easily.
The pear has been around for four thousand years, starting out in Asia and reaching Europe during the days of the Roman Empire. The cultivars that were bred in Europe are the ones from which most of today’s pears originated. Asian pears are starting to be produced in the United States in greater quantity but these European pears are still the primary pears grown and sold in the United States. In the U.S., the greatest quantity of pears is grown in California, Oregon and Washington State. Chile produces most of the pears imported into the U.S. in winter.
A Bartlett Pear is very nutritious. Pears are low in fat and sodium and have no cholesterol. Most of the calories come from carbohydrates, but these are high quality carbohydrates, which contain lots of vitamin C, A, potassium, niacin, and fiber. Pears make a healthy addition to any dietary plan.