Seckels are tiny pears, with a chubby, round body, small neck, and short stem. Their skin is usually olive green, but frequently exhibits a dark maroon blush that sometimes covers the entire surface of the pear.
Sweet Seckel pears are in season from September through February, and harvest begins in the fall.
Check the Neck for Ripeness™ daily by gently pressing your thumb near the stem end of the pear. When it gives slightly, the pear is ripe.
Why do you “Check the Neck?” Because pears ripen from the inside out, and the neck is the narrowest part of the pear, which is closest to the core. If you wait for the wider, bottom half of the pear to become soft to the touch, you’ll find the inside to be over-ripe. When that happens, though the mouth-feel may not be perfect for eating fresh, this is the perfect time for your super-ripe pear to be pureed into a tasty smoothie!
Because of their petite size, Seckels can easily be overshadowed by the larger varieties. However, it’s their size which makes them a perfect choice for certain uses:
• Snack-sized Seckels added to lunch boxes or bags are appreciated, particularly by children who love their sweet flavor.
• Seckels are small enough to be canned whole. Jars of “baby-pear” Seckels are charming as gifts.
• As a plate garnish, a small half of a Seckel pear is as beautiful as it is tasty.
THE HISTORY OF THE SECKEL
Seckels are believed by many to be the only truly American variety of pear grown commercially. Unlike other varieties planted in the U.S. from European cultivars, Seckels are thought to have originated as a wild seedling near Philadelphia. They were discovered in the early 1800’s. This may or may not be true, however. It is possible that German immigrants travelling westward through the area dropped fruit or left seeds behind.