Little known not so long ago, Asian pears have become very popular, particularly at farmers markets. You can find as many as nine or 10 different varieties. Some late-season favorites include: Shinseiki, which has a very crisp texture and a flavor like honey, walnuts and flowers; 20th Century, another crisp pear that tastes like a sparkling combination of apples and citrus; Kosui, which has a vanilla undertone; and Chojuro, a buttery Japanese pear with a caramel sweetness.
How to choose: Asian pears feel hard as rocks, but they actually bruise quite easily. Russet varieties should be deep golden brown; smooth-skinned round fruit should be yellow, not green, and smooth-skinned pear-shaped fruit will be pale green.
How to store: Asian pears need to be refrigerated.
How to prepare: You can cook Asian pears, but they are probably at their best eaten out of hand, to appreciate their delicate flavor.