Yesterday I shopped at HEB Central Market, my favorite store in Houston. I came across a wide variety of pears to buy so I asked the produce guy which one was the sweetest. Sometimes this can be good advice, sometimes not. But this time they hit a home run. I discovered the Seckel Pear. It is about the size of an egg but these beautiful balls of sweetness are delicious!
In the case of the diminutive Seckel, this could not be more truthful. It is the smallest of all commercially grown pears, Seckels are exceptionally sweet. So sweet in fact, that the bite-size morsels are sometimes called “sugar pears.” These pears are in season from September through February, and harvest begins in the fall.
It is believed to be a truly American pear and named in honor of a Pennsylvania farmer who discovered it around 1820. Here is a recipe I found that I might have to try:
- 10-12 seckel pears, washed
- 3 whole star anise
- 6 cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 cup of honey or more or less depending on how sweet you want the poaching liquid to be
- 1 vanilla bean, split seeds scraped out (save the pod!)
- water to cover
Place the whole pears in a stock pot and cover completely with filtered water. Add the spices, vanilla seeds and split vanilla pod and bring to a boil. Once at a boil reduce heat, stir in the honey and simmer until pears are very tender and the poaching liquid is very fragrant. About 30 minutes or so. When the pears are tender remove from heat and spoon some poaching liquid and two or three pears into bowls and serve warm. I bet Blue Bell Vanilla ice cream would be fantastic on top!