Autumn is here and it's pear season again. It means, if you’re lucky, that you might find some old timey Florida varieties called Sand pears. They are the descendants of a Chinese hybrid pear that was bred in the 1880s.
You’ll find them growing in some backyards and some farms around Ocala and Central Florida. But you won’t find many because of their fruit characteristics that don’t make them very good for raw eating. They are small, hard, pear with tough skin and grainy flesh. But despite these drawbacks they are very delicious when cooked.
The first time I encountered them was in 2009 at a farm-to-table dinner held at the Seminole Inn in Indiantown, Fla. The pears had been grown and were harvested in Ocala. The chef poached the pears in some Florida wine and they were delicious albeit a bit gritty.
Recently, I came across them again, this time in Orlando, at Local Roots Distribution store in the East End Market. They were selling for $4 a pound. I bought seven pears.
When I got home I poached them in wine and water for 60 minutes. The results produced a delicious, flavorful dessert.
If you want to buy some sand pears you can contact Local Roots Distribution or find someone in Ocala that might sell you the fruit from their old timey tree.