Skip to main content

Enjoy the Florida Sand Pear

If you have ever visited an old homestead in Florida then you are sure to have passed their pear tree.  It seems to have been a staple for many Florida families.  The pear we continue to grow in North and Central Florida does not look anything like a pear you would purchase in the grocery store.  Florida pears are round and gritty inside, giving them the name “sand pears” or “hard pears”.   

Most agree that this pear is Pyrus pyrifolia.  There are many different cultivars of sand pears.  The pears in the grocery store are usually European pears and eaten fresh because of the soft, juicy flesh.  Sand pears, probably a type of Asian pear are rounder, crisper, and only occasionally eaten fresh.  Sand pears are almost never eaten fresh and usually reserved for pies, pear butter, jams, and canning.

If you are lucky enough to have a sand pear in your yard, then you know that they are hardy trees that require very little attention once they are established.  Some are susceptible to fire blight.  A bacterial disease where the tips

of the tree will begin to die back.  The dead wood should be pruned until healthy wood is reached.  The most difficult thing about a sand pear is deciding when the fruit is ready to be harvested.   Which cultivar of sand pear will determine when they are ready to be picked.  Pyrus pyrifolia X communis ‘Hood’ can be ready as early as July.  Other cultivars ripen through November, providing a potentially long season.

 

Many people will tell you to wait until they start falling from the tree before you begin harvesting.  However, you can usually harvest much sooner and not give half of the crop to the wildlife.  Look for pears that are beginning to turn yellow and will easily pull or snap from the tree.  If you have to twist or tug then they are not ready.  Sand pears will not ripen much after harvest, but the earlier you pick them the less “sandy” or gritty they will taste.

If you want to use them over ice cream, pancakes or for canning, then peel and slice your pears.  A little water and some lemon juice will keep them from turning brown.  Cook them in a pot with sugar and cinnamon.  The amount of sugar is up to you and how sweet you want the pears.  One cup of sugar for 4 cups of pears makes them only slightly sweet.  Also, the more sugar, the thicker the syrup will become.  No matter how you decide to cook your pears, remember to enjoy this unique Florida fruit.     

45 Comments on “Enjoy the Florida Sand Pear

    • Are Sand Pears the same as Asian Pears that we have in California?

  1. my mom had two sand pear trees. She made the most AMAZING pear preserves, with lemon or with pineapple in them. SCRUMPTIOUS!!!

  2. My grandmother had a tree in yard in Lecanto. She always had gobs of canned pears and made the best pear cobbler. Yummy! I loved picking a pear and eatyit right off the tree. I would dearly love to have a sand pear tree in my yard.

    • Check with your local nursery or garden center to see if they carry any trees. If you are in the North Florida area, we will be having a fruit workshop on October 11th at the Columbia County Extension Office and will have some available at the workshop for sale. We will most likely have ‘Thanksgiving’ which ripen closer to November.

    • I grew up in Lecanto in the 60s and 70s. Still in the area trying to learn how to can these pears.

      • The Hernando Co cannery at the corner of Cr 491 and Hwy 98 holds private and public canning classes every week. Contact them!

  3. I currently reside in Lady Lake Fl. My property have over 75 of these trees! This property has been vacant for nearly a decade. I am considering doing a weekend Upick and I like the idea of creating a product with the pears. I think they will be fully ripen in 3 to 4 weeks. My trees a are 30 feet tall with an abundant amount of fruit. I feel like if I don’t do anything this season I will regret it.

      • Hi Kathy I just came across this article and reply. Pears are abundant and ready now! Feel free to call me 954.707.3844

    • Hi Liz, Your Florida pear tree story is awesome,
      My name is Jared I am a Fruit tree and medicinal herb collector with over 500 varieties of plants, I have searched for central Florida sand pears for years and I am still looking. I would love to see these trees and offer you plants or cash in exchange for cuttings and seeds.

      • Did you get some clippings? I have 7 or 8 old pear trees on my property in North Florida you can get clippings from. They are getting old and show age and I have been thinking of starting new ones to continue on.

        • KELLIE Converse,

          I am in Mobile County, AL and I am interested in some cuttings and seed/fruit this year if you are not too far.

    • 75 pear trees is a LOT of fruit!! I bet your property is brimming with wildlife. Very cool

    • Liz, I would like to buy 20 or 30 lbs of these sand pears, you name the price and I will pay the freight. We had a big Sand Pear tree at our farm in Oklahoma 50 years ago. My mom made the best Pear Preserves I have ever eaten, I have her recipe and would love to make those preserves again before I die. I am 87 years old now, so I don’t have much time

      • I have two sand pear trees that are full. You can come pick as much as you want. We don’t really use many. We are located in Chiefland.

        • Hi DeAnna,
          Any chance, do you have any sand pears available this year? I’ll be happy to purchase some. I’m trying to find at most 5-10 pounds.
          My girlfriend’s mom makes a desert with them every Christmas, but unfortunately her trees didn’t produce any fruit this year.

      • Pat, it would be wonderful if you’d pass on your mother’s recipe. There are many people here who’d carry on making her preserves!

    • would you happen to be on griffin ave near uncle donalds farm? if so i know right where you are and yes you have a lot of pears. i would like to buy some from you. my number is three five two 418 ten 48. call or txt me if you are looking to get rid of some. thank you sooooo much.

    • Hi Liz,
      Any chance, do you have any sand pears available this year? I’ll be happy to purchase some. I’m trying to find at most 5-10 pounds.

    • DO YOU HAVE ANY FRUIT THIS YEAR ANY DO YOU SELL IT

      LOOKING TO BUY A TREE BUT CAN,T FIND ANY OR SALE.

      THANKS

    • Would love to get washtub of sandpears for pear relish.if you have customers list plz add me

  4. Where can you get seedlings? How long before a tree matures?

    • Susan, You can purchase trees from local nurseries. A good one in North Florida that carries UF recommended varieties is Chestnut Hill Tree Farm in Alachua County. Check with your local nurseries as well, as most carry fruit trees. Grafted varieties only take a few years to be really productive.

  5. Hi! Did you make a you pick? Would like to come for a family outing 🙂 maybe a photoshoot

    • Paula,
      Most properties only have one or two trees. I have not found a u-pick yet, but from the comments it sounds like a good business venture for someone!

  6. I would pay a good deal to come pick what I can carry!! I miss them!

  7. I would like to come up and get some I grew up in the panhandle there was a sand pear tree in the yard,I love these better than the other pears.

  8. I have a sand pear relish recipe that I canned that my mother-in-law gave me years ago and my family has been wanting me to make more. I use to have a neighbor that had trees, but they were removed from her property after she passed away. I have no source to getting them now. Do you know where I can purchase them?

    • Yvonne, Unfortunately I don’t know a regular source for the pears. Sometimes you can find them at roadside stands or as you did before, a neighbor’s house. I would consider planting one of your own if you have the room.

    • I get to pick some on an empty lot near my daughter’s house near Loxley, AL Could I possibly get your recipe for the relish. I love making chutney and preserves. Making a pear, cranberry and walnut bread tomorrow. Already made pear and blueberry preserves.

      • This is a very old, tried and true recipe. I’d also love to find some of the hard pears to make this again. I never tried it with the soft, grocery store pears; I think it would be mushy.

        HOMEMADE PEAR RELISH — we used a meat grinder, it should be a chunky consistency like store-bought relish. Sorry, I don’t remember how many canning jars we used, and you’ll need a huge pot to mix it in.

        4 Quarts Peeled and Ground Pears (about 30 pears) = 16 cups after peeled and ground
        2 Quarts Yellow Onions (about 7 large) = 8 cups after peeled & ground
        8 Green Bell Peppers – remove seeds
        2 Red Bell Peppers – remove seeds
        12 Dill Pickles
        1 Cup Salt
        2 Jalapeno Peppers – remove seeds
        8 TBLS Sifted Flour
        4 Cups Sugar
        2 TBLS Turmeric
        6 TBLS Dry Mustard
        2 Quarts Dark Vinegar

        1) Grind pears, onions, peppers and pickles. Mix together, Add salt and let stand for 1/2 hour. Drain well.
        In a large pot:,
        2.) Mix dry ingredients and some vinegar to make a smooth paste, then add remaining vinegar to the paste. Stir and boil for 5 minutes.
        3.) Turn off the heat and add ground pears, onions, peppers and pickles and mix well. Let stand 3-5 minutes.
        4.) Pour into canning jars while hot.
        5.) Enjoy! Makes a great gift.

        • Hello Becky, we have pear trees that are loaded down with fruit. We would be willing to share some with you!
          We live in Milton Florida.

  9. Any chance of seeing a photo of the trunk of one of these trees? I have been trying to identify two trees on my property that I believe might be this fruit tree. We moved here in December and the trees are just starting to have leaves come in. They started appearing about 10 days ago and are emerging at a very fast pace. No sign of fruit yet. Fingers crossed!
    Searching the web has only produced photos of fruit and leaves. The leaves look promising.

  10. greetings Erin,
    Thank you for an interesting article concerning Sand Pears. I have a neighbor with Sand Pear trees infected with Rust Fungus on much of the fruit. Local literature does not offer any cure for this problem and I was wondering if there is anything new to fight this fungus for residential uses.
    Thank you in advance for any help on this issue.

    Mike Poff

    • Mike, Are you located in Columbia County and have you had the disease diagnosed? Is it just the fruit or leaves as well? I want to make sure we are providing the correct recommendations. Feel free to email me some photos at eeeck@ufl.edu.

    • Many have this fungus especially if red cedar trees are nearby. They host the fungus. Our tree has it bad most years but not this year.

  11. Do pears grow in Central Florida ? I love planting, and I have several Arbequina olive trees, and citrus in our backyard. Thank you. Victoria Blocker in Valrico, Florida 33596
    victoriablocker@hotmail.com

    • Victoria, You should be able to grow sand pears in your area. Check with your local nurseries for varieties in your area.

  12. You could also make wine with the pears, it’s not that difficult it just takes some organization and doing things on time.. and waiting.

  13. I did this in class in Agri. it was so much fun, and the pears tasted so good.

  14. Thank you for this blog. I have been trying to figure out what kind of pear tree we have. I live in Winchester Virginia and because of your blog, I realize our tree is a Sand Pear. I’ve been calling them Asian Pears but they are not like the ones in the store. Your description fits them perfectly. Our horses have loved them and my grandchildren and I occasionally eat them but when we bought our property, the owners said there was no fruit trees on the property. I have been trying to figure out how to reduce the grittiness of them. Any suggestions?