Seckel Pears are back!
We’ve reached an annual milestone at the Apple House: Seckel Pears have arrived for the season! Every year, as early as mid-September, these diminutive gems become available from local orchards, and Delaware County residents are all the better for it.
You may not know this, but Seckel Pears have been available at Wolff’s Apple House since the beginning! When Frank Wolff started his orchard back in 1908, Seckel Pears were among the first trees he planted. They were a natural choice, as these well-known pears had been popular in our region since their discovery in the 1700’s.
The Origin Story
The history of the Seckel Pear is a little fuzzy, but some sources consider it to be the only pear native to Pennsylvania. As the story goes, the first Seckel tree was found as a wild sapling, and treasured by those “in the know” for its delightful sweet treats. Around the early 1800’s, a Mr. Seckel bought the land on which stood this prized tree, and thus the name was born.
Why They’re OUR pears
For a very long time, these pears were only grown and available in our region. Many of our neighbors and longtime customers feel a particular fondness for Seckel pears that goes beyond just how delicious they are, and so do the Wolff family and staff! In this age of global markets, we can’t help but feel proud of something that has a special story in our part of the world. It’s one of the pleasures of shopping at a place like Wolff’s. Not only do you feel a connection to your local community, but to its history as well!
“You Say Seckel, I say Sickle”
One fun local quirk about the Seckel pear is its pronunciation. Fran Wolff told me that when he learned to read as a boy, he was surprised to see the word spelled the way it was. Everyone at that time (and presumably since the 1800’s!) pronounced it like “sickle.” Over the past few generations, that old pronunciation has gradually phased out. These days, most of our customers are reading a sign about the pears rather than hearing about them from their grandparents. These folks say “seckel.”
Some of our regular customers of the older generations still come shopping looking for their “sickle” pears. As with so many things, it’s difficult to adjust to new ways of the world when the younger generation comes and decides on a new way to do things. But in the case of how you pronounce your pear… it doesn’t matter! They’ll look just as cute, and taste just as delightfully fresh and delicious, no matter how you say it.
So you’ve bought a pint of Seckel pears. What next? Well, if you look online you can find pear tarts, wine-soaked pears, sugared pears, pickled pears… and the Seckel pear is indeed a nice choice because of its small size. Most of the time it can be used whole in recipes or just cut in half. But this, I think, is the best thing to do with them, and it’s super easy. Pack one (or two!) in your lunch every day. Presto! A tiny, fresh, healthy dessert treat daily. One that goes back to the 1700’s. And one whose taste, texture, and size is so deliciously appealing to the next new generation.
Seckel Pears are available all season long at Wolff’s. Eat up, and enjoy!