By Harold McGee
Apples, pears, and quinces are closely related members of the rose family, natives of Eurasia that were domesticated in prehistoric times. They are a kind of fruit known as a pome (from the Latin for “fruit”). The fleshy portion of a pome fruit is the greatly enlarged tip of the flower stem. The remains of the flower project from the bottom of the fruit, and the few small seeds are protected in a tough-walled core. Apples and their relatives are climacteric fruit, and contain starch stores that can be turned into sugar after harvest. They generally keep well in cold storage, though late-harvested fruit tend to develop brown cores. Apples are generally sold ripe and keep best if immediately wrapped and refrigerated; pears are sold unripe and are best ripened at relatively cool room temperatures, then refrigerated without close wrapping.