Pears are a member of the rose family of plants (Rosaceae), which, in addition, of course, to roses, contains a long list of fruits including apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, raspberries and strawberries.
Pears are found in a variety of colours, including many different shades of green, red, yellow/gold, and brown. Many varieties fail to change colour as they ripen, making it more difficult to determine ripeness.
Since pears are very perishable once they are ripe the pears you find at the supermarket will generally be unripe and will require a few days of maturing. Look for pears that are firm, but not too hard. They should have a smooth skin that is free of bruises or mold. The color of good quality pears may not be uniform as some may feature russetting where there are brown-speckled patches on the skin, but this is an acceptable characteristic and oftentimes reflects a more intense flavour.
Fresh pears are delicious eaten as is after gently washing the skin by running it under cool water and patting it dry. Since their skin provides about half of the pears total dietary fibre as well as its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties it is best not to peel the fruit but eat the entire pear.