The Red Sensation, known also as “Max Red,” was first discovered as a bud sport on a standard Yellow Bartlett tree near Zillah, Washington in 1938. A “bud sport” is a rare, naturally occurring transformation that develops spontaneously on fruit trees. The Red Sensation was then cultivated by pear growers, resulting in today’s large crop.

Called “Summer pears” because of the time of year in which their harvest begins, Red Sensation pears are similar in shape and texture to Yellow Bartletts. Offering differing floral aromas and a supple sweetness, Summer Reds add a beautiful contrast of flavor and color in fruit baskets and bowls.

These pears offer much the same great flavors as Yellow Bartletts, but their color simply adds to their appeal. Consider sliced red pears to liven up green salads or other recipes. Remember that any recipe calling for apples can be made using fresh pears.

Ripening & Storage: The skin color of the Red Sensation pear brightens as it ripens from a dark red to a brilliant red as it becomes sweeter and juicier. All pears ripen at room temperature. Only refrigerate your pears to slow the ripening process.

Poached Zinfandel Red Pear- 4 large ripe Red Sensation Pears,  (cored from the bottom, leaving stem intact), 1-1/2 c. white zinfandel or rosé wine, 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 t. vanilla, 1/3 c. sugar, 4 t. honey.

Slice bottom of cored pears to allow them to stand upright. Stand pears in the bottom of a large saucepan; add wine and vanilla bean, or liquid vanilla. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes, until pears are tender.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer pears to four dessert dishes. Add sugar to liquid in pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 12 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 2/3 cup and is the consistency of a thin sauce. Spoon over pears. Drizzle honey on top. Serve warm or chilled.

Make Ahead Tip: Place prepared pears and syrup in a covered bowl and chill up to 4 hours. Place into dessert dishes and drizzle with honey just before serving.

The Bartlett Pear, as it is known in North America, is the same variety that is called the “Williams” in many other parts of the world. First discovered in 1765 by an English schoolmaster, this variety was made popular in England by a nurseryman named Williams, and became known as the Williams Pear. Around 1799, several Williams trees were exported to the U.S. and were planted on a Massachusetts estate orchard. Later, Enoch Bartlett acquired the orchard. Not knowing the identity of the trees, Bartlett introduced the variety to the U.S. under his own name. It was later discovered that both varieties are the same.

With that quintessential “pear flavor,” Bartletts are found in most local markets. The earliest choice available for pear lovers, (harvested in late August to early September, available through December or January), they are great for canning, eating out of hand, or in dishes including appetizers, salads and desserts.

Ripening & Storage: Uniquely, the Bartlett’s skin brightens as it ripens. Ripen at room temperature to a yellow-green for mild sweetness, or to bright yellow for super sweetness and juiciness. Refrigerate to slow ripening.

Crunchy Pear & Celery Salad – 4 stalks celery, cut in half crosswise, 2 T. cider, pear, raspberry or other fruit vinegar, 2 T. honey, 1/4 t. salt, 2 ripe Bartlett pears, diced, 1 c. diced white cheddar cheese, 1/2 c. chopped pecans, toasted, Freshly ground black pepper, to taste, 6 large leaves lettuce. Soak celery in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes, drain and pat dry. Cut into 1/2″ pieces. Whisk vinegar, honey and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add pears; gently stir to coat. Add the celery, cheese and pecans; stir to combine. Season with pepper. Divide the lettuce leaves among 6 plates and top with a portion of salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Stir in pecans just before serving.

How to Toast the Perfect Pecan: Cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 to 4 minutes. They are toasted to perfection when the nuts are fragrant and lightly browned.

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Tracie Burket
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