Pear Excellence

Warren pears at See Canyon Fruit Ranch in Avila
Warren pears at See Canyon Fruit Ranch in Avila

There are pears, and there are pears par excellence. A Warren pear is an example of the latter, and lauded by such prized palates as Alice, Martha, and Oprah.

Apparently, I was missing out. I’d never heard of this heirloom variety until Susie Kenny of See Canyon Fruit Ranch insisted that I try one. The firm, ripe-and-ready fruit she handed me was chilled from the cold storage, but still smelled like this just might be the real deal.

“Just rub it on your pant leg and bite into it, and you’ve got to eat it while it’s cold,” she said. Mama Kenny – as much of San Luis Obispo County knows her – then predicted that she’d be able to hear me scream from the road as I tasted it, and that I’d be back for more.

I must admit I was a bit skeptical. Pears have so often not delivered as promised. They’ve been mealy, chalky, tough-skinned, tasteless. Most often, they worked for me in desserts, especially when stunningly arranged atop a pear tart tatin.

The Warren pear trees at See Canyon Fruit Ranch were well established when Susie and Paul Kenny began leasing the property in 1997. Evidently, it’s one of the few places that grow them.

As San Francisco’s CUESA website notes, “Named for Thomas Oscar Warren, a Mississippi man who first discovered the variety growing in front of the Hattiesburg, MS post office, the Warren is only grown by a handful of farmers in California. With its buttery texture and concentrated sweetness, it’s no wonder this particular variety is so popular with shoppers.”

Word has apparently gotten out about See Canyon Fruit Ranch’s Warrens. The idyllic setting is open throughout the year for special events, but fruit aficionados anxiously await September 1 – the date the fruit stand opens for business. During the first two to three weeks, “it’s almost like we’re a pear stand instead of an apple stand,” Mama Kenny said.

The Warren pears are only available for those first few weeks, but after that you can settle in and enjoy the Kennys’ wide variety of apples. Bring a picnic and soak in the serene ambiance of this quintessential location.

When I finally did bite into that chilly Warren pear, by the way, there was indeed an epiphany. Now THIS was a pear! The tender skin gave way to smooth, creamy flesh with a natural sweetness that sung. True to form, it was a little drippy to eat, but I relished the challenge.

And it wasn’t a loud scream, really just a very emphatic OMG, and yes I did go back the very same week for more pears. All in all, Mama Kenny was right.


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