Golden pear is a variety of pear, sometimes referred to as Asian pear, that originated from East Asia over 3000 years ago. Split into 2 major varieties, one from China and one from Japan, they are characterized by their flatter, rounder shape and juicy, crispy taste. They are traditionally associated in Asian culture with grace and nobility.
The golden pear made its first appearance in North America during the 1800s. It was mostly used ornamentally until people realized that the golden pear was immune to a common crop disease that would regularly wipe out the European pear trees, so several hybrid species were created to take advantage of its natural immunity. Golden pears saw their biggest adoption during the Gold Rush on the west coast, where they were brought over by Asian immigrants; some maintain that is where the term “golden pear” stems from.
Golden pears are some of the most expensive fruits available today, due to a couple of major factors; first, the golden pear has to be tended by hand, in contrast to the European pear which can be handled mostly by mechanical means. Another critical factor is the optimal ripeness of the fruit- it doesn’t improve after it is picked. The European pear improves as it ripens and softens after harvest, while the golden pear is at its best immediately.