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What Is a Comice Pear?

Anna Harrison
Anna Harrison

A comice pear is a medium to large sized, greenish skinned fruit with a red tinge and a wonderful fragrance. A marvelous sweet flavor and a melt-in-the-mouth consistency make this pear one of the most popular additions to holiday fruit baskets and gift boxes. It is native to the Loire Valley in France but are now grown in other parts of Europe and North America. Comice pears are considered the best of all pear varieties, although they do have certain drawbacks.

Unlike other pears such as Bartlett and Bosc, comice pears cannot be used for cooking because they are far too juicy. The skin also bruises very easily, which makes handling and transporting them difficult. Any bruising of the skin is usually superficial, however, and does not damage the inner flesh. The flesh is slow to turn brown as well, which makes them a good choice for salads and fruit platters. They are ripe and ready to eat when the flesh at the bottom of the stem gives to slight pressure.

Fruit baskets commonly feature comice pears.
Fruit baskets commonly feature comice pears.

The comice pear is best eaten by hand as a low fat, healthy snack or may be made into jams, jellies, and juice. Their nutritional qualities are often overlooked, but comice pears are very high in fiber as well as vitamin C. They are complemented well by soft cheeses such as Brie or Camembert.

Comice pear trees can be grown in many areas, although they will not tolerate very cold climates. They are one of the few fruit trees that will live in wet soil, but they prefer rich, well drained ground. The trees are very prone to damage from insects; pesticide use, although undesirable, is often necessary for them to produce undamaged fruit. Branches of these trees tend to grow upright and need to be pruned to correct this habit. Like other pear varieties, the comice pear is sterile, and cross pollination with another pear type is needed to bear fruit.

Comice pears are considered to be the best types of all pear varieties.
Comice pears are considered to be the best types of all pear varieties.

The trees are not widely available and are seen as a specialty product. They can be found at some garden centers and in catalogs, although it may be best to purchase a tree from a nursery nearby when possible to prevent shipping damage. The cost can also be prohibitive because the comice pear is considered an elite fruit and this of course reflects in the price. The young trees will not produce fruit for between three to three years. The fruit is usually ripe and ready to be picked in mid-August.

Discussion Comments


@burcidi-- May I ask where you're located?

I'm looking at different pear tree types to grow in Virginia. I'm not sure if comice pear will do well here or not. Does anyone know if comice does well on the East coast?

@burcidi -- Comice pears are not the best for pies and other baked goods simply because they don't keep their shape. They will fall apart and and become sauce in the oven. The varieties of pears best for baking are Anjou and French butter pears.

I suggest you make pear sauce or pear jam with the comice pears you have. Pear jam is relatively easy to make and keeps for at least several weeks in the fridge. You could also make pear sauce or mix it with other fruits and make a fruit sauce.

I've never tried this but you could also make pear chutney. Chutney is a spiced, sweet relish that is eaten with curries and rice. I usually make mango chutney but pear chutney sounds delicious too.


So, I can't bake with comice pear?

My grandmother has comice pear trees on her farm and she brought tree pear baskets yesterday. It's delicious to eat as is, but I can't possibly eat them all. Can't I make pie with it or something?

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    • Fruit baskets commonly feature comice pears.
      By: Anna Kucherova
      Fruit baskets commonly feature comice pears.
    • Comice pears are considered to be the best types of all pear varieties.
      By: Olivier Tuffé
      Comice pears are considered to be the best types of all pear varieties.