My quest to save the British pear
Pears are one of my all-time favourite fruits to cook with or snack on. I grew up in Kent, the home of the British pear, so I’ve been a big fan since childhood. I remember picking them with my mother, then going back home to make tarte aux poires – delicious!
Pears need our help though. We used to grow hundreds of varieties, but now we only have a few left, which is such a shame. In fact, as you will have learned in the Great British Food Revival, 80 per cent of the pears we eat are imported. This is shocking when we have such wonderful varieties grown on our doorstep.
Michel Roux Jr.
We used to harvest 40,000 tonnes of pears 15 years ago, but now it's down to 28,000. If we start to insist on British pears we will be able to invest more in the industry and build new orchards, so our growers can keep going.
But we have got to buy British, otherwise we’ll lose our pears for good; it’s as simple as that. Why not pay the extra few pennies it takes to go British if it means investing in our economy and helping our growers?
Furthermore, British pears definitely taste better than imported pears. They take longer to ripen, which in my opinion gives them a much better flavour.
British pears will always have a British flag on them, so it’s easy to pick out our heritage varieties when you’re shopping. Otherwise just head to your local farmers' market and you’re bound to find some wonderful British varieties.
They are one of the most versatile fruits and are fantastic for cooking with, which many people forget. Remember, they don’t have to be ripe, hard pears are just as good to cook. They are the crowning glory in my recipes from the show, comprising a tart with Stilton and pistachios, braised beef and the ultimate soufflé.
We tend to always go for the Conference pear, but we should remember to branch out and try different varieties such as the William Bartlett, Commis and Concorde pears. They all have different qualities to offer. So why not start experimenting?
I want everyone to find a new appreciation for the pear; it really is such a great fruit.
So, what do you think? Do you buy British pears? What are your favourite variety for cooking with?
Michel Roux Jr is a presenter for the Great British Food Revival.