Come and find all about the Rocha pear, a uniquely Portuguese variety! In some countries, it is known as “Portuguese” pear, one of the most important agricultural products from Portugal. It is not as well-known as other types of pears: Bradford, Bartlett, Bosc, Prickly, Asian, Anjou, Korean, or Nashi, which are some of the most famous pear varieties. Although not as famous in other markets, in Portugal and some other countries it is the most famous variety of pear, and in this article, we will tell you all about the Rocha pear, its origin, profile, and how to make delicious original recipes with it!
The History of Pears
Pears are a very old fruit, and its history goes far back in time, having the first written registry of pear production been in 1000 a.c. by Homer in Greece, where he states that pears were “gifts of the gods”.
The pear is also known by its Japanese name "nashi" from the Genus Pyrus (family Rosaceae) and it is thought to have evolved during the Tertiary Period at the base of the mountains of Tian Shen, the westernmost part of China, and then spread East and West, adapting to the climate of the region, and giving rise to its specifications.
Plants of all species in the Genus Pyrus are trees or large deciduous shrubs and can reach a height of 24m and trunks of 1.2m in diameter. The size of the fruits is very variable, but they generally have a very juicy flesh that can be soft or grainy. The seeds are black or dark brown when ripe. The shape of the fruit is also variable, and the colour of the skin can be yellow to light greenish when it is ripe or covered with a shade of brown to reddish. The firmness of the flesh is the most reliable indicator of maturity, but the optimum pressure varies depending on the variety.
Rocha Pear (PDO)
"Legend has it that in 1836, Mr. Pedro António Rocha discovered a pear tree with particular characteristics on his property, the Rocha Farm in the West region, near Lisbon, its fruit had a different colour, texture, and flavour to other pear trees in the orchard." Despite the ancient dating of this discovery, the official recognition of the Rocha pear variety only happens almost a century later during the 2nd National Congress of Pomology, in Alcobaça. https://perarocha.pt/pera-rocha/
The "Pera Rocha do Oeste" is one of the different pear varieties, being a product with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), an exclusively Portuguese variety.
PDO - Protected Designation of Origin, is the name given to a product whose production, transformation, and elaboration occur in a delimited geographical area, with recognized know-how and the Rocha pear was recognized in 2003 with this distinction, the PDO seal of the European Union that certifies the quality and tradition of food and agricultural products. The seal guarantees that the product was created in a specific geographical area and that all its process was governed by rules and certified know-how.
The West - Region of Portugal
The Rocha pear is a PDO product, has its production limited to 29 municipalities in the West Region of Portugal, which offers ideal conditions for this culture, crucial to give colour, texture, and unique flavours to the Rocha pear. The climate, the terrain, the air humidity, the type of soil, wind, and proximity to the sea, are very important factors to grow this fruit and its cultivation is done in about ten thousand acres of land, producing an average of 173 thousand tons annually.
Not only a symbol in the West Region, the Rocha pear has great prominence at the table of the Portuguese, where on average, each inhabitant eats 6.3 kilos of pear per year, being the fourth most consumed fruit in Portugal.
The Rocha pear is also one of the most exported Portuguese national agricultural products, and about 60% of its produce is sold in international markets, where the main markets are Brazil, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Morocco.
The “Pera Rocha do Oeste” is a very attractive variety, because in addition to its very specific flavour and crispness, whatever the shape of the Rocha pear PDO, the “carepa” (the name given to the characteristic brown specs ever-present in this variety) the place where it accumulates the sugars that characterize it and that vary in percentage and concentration, depending on the weather conditions of each year.
It has an excellent conservation capacity and is very resistant to handling and transport, with little loss of flavour during the conservation period. In the region of the West, the harvest of the Rocha pear takes place in August. It continues to be done traditionally, by hand, grabbing the fruit and tilting it slightly sideways. Discover the origin and history of Rocha Pear from West PDO.
The Characteristics of the Rocha Pear
The average size of the Rocha pear is 55 to 65 mm, with an oval and piriform shape, its skin is firm and smooth with a light green or yellowish colour, sometimes with a pinkish spot on the side facing the sun.
Russeting is typical of this fruit, usually found around the stalk, with its concentration varying according to weather conditions..
In short, it is a hard, firm, juicy, and sweet fruit. The pulp is white, soft, granular, juicy, and very succulent, with a slightly pronounced perfume.
A very versatile fruit, when the Rocha pear is greener it is crunchier and when it is riper it becomes sweeter, softer, and juicier.
Like any other fruit, it is important to wash the Rocha pear before eating it, it can be eaten at room temperature or refrigerated and, if possible, with its skin since it has high nutritional and dietary properties.
Of variable size and shape, the “Pera Rocha do Oeste” (PDO) has characteristics that differentiate it from other varieties of pear, its yellow or light green colour, white flesh, firm and stiff, sweet and grainy, and the russeting always present, which gives it the sweetness so characteristic.
When choosing Rocha pears in your grocery store, prefer those with firm skin, without bruises, stains, or insect bites.
How to preserve Rocha Pears
One of the main characteristics of the Rocha pear is its easy conservation, it can last up to 8 months in the right conditions. If you like softer pears you should simply keep them in a fruit bowl until they get the consistency you like, if you prefer the harder pears, you should keep them in the refrigerator, avoid storing them in plastic bags or restricted spaces that limit their exposure to oxygen and away from other fruits that can accelerate the ripening process like kiwis and bananas and away from foods with intense smells since they tend to absorb the smells.
Nutritional Information of Rocha Pear
|Per 100 g
|Per 130 g (1 average pear)
|From which are sugars
|Source: Food Chart values (Instituto Nacional de Saúde Dr. Ricardo Jorge)
8 Great Benefits of Rocha Pears
A great source of protein, the Rocha pear has several properties and nutrients that make it a unique fruit, such as dietary fibre, minerals, vitamins, and has a strong concentration of potassium. The main benefits of the Rocha pear for our health care:
- Helps the regulation of intestinal transit, due to its high fibre content and low glycaemic index, which prevents constipation and problems at the digestive level, in addition to stimulating the release of gastric and digestive juices, improving the functioning of the intestines;
- In addition, due to its high fibre content and low glycaemic index, it contributes to the feeling of satiety and appetite control between meals, especially when consumed before meals, as well as being a good diuretic option for its low-calorie level and its high amount of water;
- It is good for the eyesight, through the presence of Vitamin A, so the Rocha pear helps prevent eye diseases and degenerative eye diseases;
- Due to the high concentration of Vitamins A and C, the Rocha pear helps reduce the effects of skin aging, such as wrinkles and dark spots;
- Because it has high levels of water, it is very soft when ripe and easy to digest, the pear is one of the first fruits to be introduced to babies;
- Improves cardiovascular health, due to the high concentration of potassium, which helps in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, activating the circulation, lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and helping to purify the blood;
- Antioxidant, the skin of the Rocha pear has high levels of flavonoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, phenolic acid, and it is also rich in vitamins A and C, which act as antioxidants, fighting the degenerative actions caused by free radicals in the body, contributes to the production of white blood cells that are responsible for protecting our body, helping to prevent inflammation;
- Being rich in minerals such as magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, and copper, the Rocha pear contributes to reducing bone mineral loss and avoiding problems such as osteoporosis and, ensuring the formation and maintenance of a healthy bone and dental system.
Ways to eat Rocha Pear
The Rocha Pear is mainly eaten raw, although it is also widely used in desserts such as pies, cakes, mousses, creams, and more popularly as Poached Pear. In savoury dishes, it is excellent to accompany salads and cheeses of strong or spicy flavour.
Being a very versatile ingredient that adapts well to any dish, the Rocha Pear is also used for juices, yoghurts, made into liqueurs, and of course in jams, jellies, and preserves.
meia.dúzia® values the quality of raw materials it uses in the production of its products, giving preference to fruits from various regions of Portugal, fruits with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), such as “Pera Rocha do Oeste”, thus supporting local producers and using only seasonal fruits. The fruit jams, such as the Rocha Pear with Douro Muscatel or the Rocha Pear and Redcurrant with Melissa and Pink Peppercorns, are handmade, using only products of local origin, natural, chemical-free, with the least amount of sugar possible and, of course, combined with the best and most efficient packaging, 100% recyclable.
Find out here about our jam flavours with Rocha Pear
Rocha Pear Jam with Douro Muscatel meia.dúzia®
Douro’s Muscatel, a fortified wine, makes an extremely delicate and light connection with the Rocha pear (PDO), making this a sweet with a soft and delicate flavour. Perfect to accompany cheeses, toasts, sandwiches with Brie cheese or to complement a Margarita cocktail.
Rocha Pear and Redcurrant Jam with Melissa and Pink Peppercorns meia.dúzia®
This jam, which combines the sweet flavour of the Rocha Pear (PDO) with the acidity of the redcurrants, results in a unique flavour experience, with a grainy texture. The mixture of these two fruits also has a touch of Melissa, with a fresh and sweet flavour, and pink peppercorns slightly spicy. Its flavour pairs perfectly with salads, toasts with Brie cheese, blue cheeses (Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola), and goat cheeses. It can also be combined with ham, pizza, sushi, hamburgers, and dark chocolate bonbon filling.
We propose a journey through some distinct and unimaginable combinations where you can use this flavour so Portuguese and prepare the most exquisite recipes that will make any menu shine.
Rocha Pear (PDO) – delicious suggestions to try - Original recipes by meia.dúzia®
Here are some suggestions and curious combinations to make delicious recipes with Rocha Pear and our Rocha Pear jams, so you can enjoy our most authentic flavours and turn them into unique and extraordinary meals!
- Sausage Tartlets with Chèvre Cheese and Rocha Pear Jam with Douro Moscatel
- Black Pork Ham Salad with Island Cheese, Fig and Pear Jam
- Duck Breast with Caramelized Pears and Rocha Pear Jam and Blackcurrant with Lemongrass and Pink Pepper
- Roasted Veal with Caramelized Pears and Rocha Pear Jam with Moscatel do Douro and Pepper
- Ricotta Mousse with Rocha Pear Jam and Blackcurrant with Cidreira and Pink Pepper
- Rocha Pear Crumble with Douro Moscatel and Dark Chocolate with Cranberry
- "Drunken" Rocha Pears with Lemon Ice Cream and Pear and Redcurrant Jam with Pink Pepper
We hope you have enjoyed these curiosities and to know a little more about Pera Rocha do Oeste (DOP) and that you will try to create some of our delicious recipes!
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