Fruit of the year is a rare cooking pear

The Swiss cooking pear is small, round and green Keystone / Bernadettte Boppart


The Swiss cooking pear, of which there are only a few trees left, has been named Swiss fruit of the year.

This content was published on January 18, 2020 - 18:56
Keystone-SDA/ilj

The label is awarded each year by Fructus, an association that promotes preservation of fruit heritage and biodiversity. 

“Its excellent culinary qualities make it a real delicacy, which should be rediscovered,” said Fructus in a statement on Saturday.

The hard, bulbous pear has to be roasted, baked or cooked to be enjoyed best, and has a strong aroma compared with other types of pear, it added.

The fruit, which originates Lake Zurich region, was until recently largely forgotten. It used to be popular in the area in the first half of the 19th century, Fructus said.

Potato famine

“It was a time in which people used a lot a cooking fruit,” Peter Enz of Fructus told the Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA. “There was a potato famine, caused by potato blight, in Europe at the time and rural families replaced the potato with fruit like the cooking pear.”

The pear was still being sold on markets until the beginning of the 20th century but it largely disappeared once the potato made a comeback and changes were made to orchards.

The pear is also extremely small, which makes harvesting problematic, Enz said. You need a lot of manpower to collect a kilogramme and “this has an impact on its price compared to that of a Williams pear for example", he added.

Currently there are only a few Swiss cooking pear trees left in Switzerland. However, the inventory of Swiss fruit varieties from 2000 uncovered a small number of the Swiss cooking pear under different names in the cantons of Aargau and Basel Country.

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