Dec 2008

Vegetation Profile: Royal Riviera Pears

The Comice pear has long been enjoyed by European nobility for its smooth, creamy texture and exquisite flavor. Grown in only a few places in the world, the pear has found the perfect home in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, where in 1934 brothers Harry and David Holmes launched their famous gourmet gift business with the premium fruit.

Since the start of Harry and David nearly 70 years ago, millions of Americans have continued to send and receive Harry and David’s pears, called Royal Riviera Pears by the brothers, as holiday gifts. Their rich, creamy texture, succulent juiciness (so juicy you can eat them with a spoon) and large, pound-apiece size make Royal Riviera Pears the ultimate holiday gift.

The Astronomer’s family has been eating Royal Riviera Pears from Harry and David ever since he can remember. Back when we first started dating, he mailed me a box of pears as a gift. I was initially appalled that he shelled out thirty bucks for eight measly pears, but after one bite, it was clear that these pears were really something special. Pears at the grocery store never dribble sweet juices down one’s chin.

The Astronomer’s parents recently mailed us a box of Royal Rivera pears for the holidays, and boy am I glad they did. Consuming five-a-day has been so difficult after the bounty of Vietnam, but these pears make it a little bit easier. And stickier.

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9 thoughts on “Vegetation Profile: Royal Riviera Pears

  1. Prepare to be unhappy.

    We get Comice pears in the grocery here, for $1 a pound, and they are fabulous. I let them get ridiculously ripe, nearly rotten, then have to peel them over a dishtowel because they stream juice. It’s like eating custard.

    I eat them all winter long, and they’ve rehabilitated pears for me.

    OK, showing off over.

    Your in-laws are nice! Have fun cramming in those pears.

  2. OMG, I LOVE these pears!! The only time I get to indulge in them is the holidays. Thanks for the great reminder, I need to put it on my x-mas list and send it off to Santa. 😉
    Happy Holidays to you guys!

  3. OK, I hear you all raving about the Royal Riviera pears. Would you believe I have a tree full of them in my back yard! We did not know what kind of fruit it was until we saw the picture in the Harry and David catalog.
    We bought this home in 2007; there were 14 assorted fruit trees, none were producing. This is the first year this pear tree has produced fruit.
    So the questions I have are:
    How do you tell when the fruit should be picked?
    How do you store the fruit?
    How long can you store the fruit?

  4. James, you can tell when the fruit should be picked when it gives slightly when pressed with your thumb near the pear’s stem. You should put the pears in cool storage or a refrigerator for at least a few days to several weeks. You can store them for a few months depending on your storage temperature and humidity. Trial and error will be the most informative. Also, Comice pears such as the Royal Riviera are notorious for being unreliable bearers – one year they will produce fruit, the next they will not. Thin out your fruit after they first develop to encourage regular bearing next year. Congrats on the ownership of your orchard that came with the house! (Did the previous owners not tell you what the tree varieties are?)

  5. To James McMorris & Mr. Kowi: Sorry Mr. Kowi…I live in the Rogue Valley where Harry & David have their business (my son works for them) & grow their pears. Pears that are left on the tree too long can become grainy, woody & have core breakdown (rot in the center). When you see the first windfalls on the ground it’s time to start picking your pears. When the stem snaps free of the tree as it is turned from the perpendicular to the horizontal it is ready to be picked. If it resists then give it a few days more on the tree before trying again. Here’s a website from OSU: extension service that will tell you more.

  6. I agree with Fiona the Harry and David pears are overpriced and you can easily find Comice pears at your local fruit market when they are in season.

  7. I had my first Riviera pear today…oh my goodness! Certainly the best pear I have ever had! Comice pears have always been my favourite, and the Rivieras take that genre to a new level.
    It is very difficult in my locale (BC Canada)to find good pears, and almost impossible to find Comice. So for me, Harry and David is the only guarantee I have of an exceptional pear experience!

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