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Black Worcester Pears
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Black Worcester pear trees are very large and are covered with thousands of white flowers in the spring and distinctive fruits in the fall. The pears are an extremely dark red with russeting. They can grow up to three inches wide and are usually oval, though irregular, in shape. Inside, the cream-colored flesh is very hard and gritty, comparable to an apple, but less appealing when fresh.
Black Worcester pears are available mid-fall through spring.
The Black Worcester pear is an extremely old variety of Pyrus communis from England—probably the oldest variety still eaten today. It is also known as the Warden pear or even the Iron pear. However, the term Warden pear has also historically referred to all hard baking pears.
Pears of all sorts are a healthy part of the diet. They are low in calories and high in fiber and Vitamin C in particular. They also contain small amounts of calcium and protein.
The hard texture of the Black Worcester pear recommends it for cooking rather than eating fresh. When cooked for one to two hours, the hard, gritty flesh becomes soft, juicy, and delicious. Black Worcester pears are often served stewed or in pie. These pears can be stored for several months in the refrigerator or cold storage. They are much better eaten after storage, rather than soon after harvest.
The pear—and in particular the Black Worcester—has been a symbol of the city of Worcester and the surrounding countryside for many centuries. The Worcester coat of arms bears this pear, along with the County Council crest and the badges of the city's cricket and rugby teams. The area has long grown many varieties of pears, and many place names refer to pears.
The exact origin of the Black Worcester pear is not known, but has been around at least since the 1600s (and likely earlier). Some think the first fruits were introduced by the Romans and grown by a Cistercian Abbey in the English village of Old Warden as far back as the 1200s. They were probably eaten by English troops in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Black Worcesters and other hard pears were eaten commonly during Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare's time. Today, it isn't grown commercially, but trees are available for propagation at many nurseries particularly in England. The Worcestershire County Council recently initiated a drive to plant more of these trees.
Recipes that include Black Worcester Pears. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Circus Gardener's Kitchen||Almond Stuffed Pears with Chocolate Sauce|