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Harry & David fruits--as good as they look?

  • k

I am considering ordering a large fruit assortment (mainly pears) for my mom for Christmas. Opinions? Is the fruit as good as it looks?

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  1. I got an order of the pears last year. They were very good-sweet and juicy, but I've found pears just as good at local markets, and for much cheaper than what Harry & David charges. Still, they're good pears and they make a fine gift.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SKU

      I received their pears & apples as a gift today. They're not big, but taste fine and arrive in good shape. You can find similar and cheaper locally, but getting them at your doorstep is a welcome surprise.

    2. I've ordered a bunch of stuff from them. While it is possible to find fruit that's as good at a local market for cheaper, it can be a chore. I find that their stuff is always consistently good (except for the "Maverick" items - stay way away from those), and if it's not, it comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. I got an order of the "Cream of the Crop" pears, and they were fabulous.

      1. Yes, the pears are very good. But, the other fruits are no better than what you can purchase at the supermarket. And when you're paying an average of $5.00 a pound for it, it's not unrealistic to expect it to be of extraordinary quality.

        1. You can also try Hale Groves. They also have a website. I get a mixed bushel of fruit every monthg from November until MAy. I really look forward to having sweet juicy stuff available during the winter months.

          8 Replies
          1. re: gourmound

            at http://www.halegroves.com/

            I've ordered from them several times and have never been disappointed

            Link: http://www.halegroves.com/

            1. re: LisaN

              Lisa, have you (or anyone else) bought the 12 month deal from Hale's? Was just wondering if all the fruit is good or if (as people are saying about Harry & David) only one thing is better than grocery store quality? Thanks.

              1. re: Sarnie

                It's not 12 months. The program is from November to May. I get a mixed bushel every month and really look forward to it. The friut is much better than what I can find in the market.

                1. re: gourmound

                  Is there a change in the composition of your mixed bushel over the course of the season? I couldnt tell from the website whether that was true.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    You have to specify the composition of the shipment up front. You can get a half, 3/4 or full bushel. All Grapefruit, Oranges or the one I choose is half a bushel of Grapefruit and sometimes it's Valencia Oranges, sometimes tangerines, whatever they have available. It is always good. I have also tried one time shipments of Cherries, Pears, etc. All good so far. I did have a shipment damaged in transit and they replaced it, no problems. They will also replaced anything that arrives damaged. I also send their gift baskets. No, I do not work for them.

                  2. re: gourmound

                    They do have a 12 month plan, its different fruits Every month, not just citrus. You can see it at the link below

                    Link: http://www.halegroves.com/index.cfm?m...

                  3. re: Sarnie

                    I've only ever ordered different boxes of their citrus fruit when the mood struck. It has always been much better quality than what I have found at the store.

                    Based on the fruit I have received, I would imagine the others would be just as good.

                    I also found another place in California to order citrus, I have placed an order, but haven't received it yet, but they have a money back guarantee if you aren't satisfied, their prices include shipping, and are reasonable

                    Link: http://www.californiaoranges.com/

                2. re: gourmound

                  One time i ordered oranges from Angie's Grove in Florida, but my parents lived in Texas and they wouldn't (couldn't? illegal? gentleman's agreement?) ship Florida oranges to Texas.

                3. I do send my Grandma the grapefruit every Christmas, because she is stuck in one of those shrinkwrapped-produce way-up-north towns (the grownup "kids" are less likely to steal one on the way out than they would a pear), and she's never disappointed. Regardless, I might check into one of these other sites for a little variety.

                  1. I have had Harry and David's "Royal Riviera" pears, which they claim are their own exclusive variety--they are actually comice pears that have been cultivated in a very pampered manner. Equally good comice pears can be found for much less money. Comice generally are sold very far from ripeness however. They usually need at least a week or even two in a brown paper bag under the sink until they are at peak ripeness for eating. And they should be peeled, as the skin is tough and somewhat bitter.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: zora

                      One year we received Bosc pears and brie from Harry and David as a gift. They were absolutely wonderful. The next year we remarked how much we liked it, so the gift-giver gave us what looked like anjou pears without any brie. (Because I got more pears this way, but...ordinary in taste.)

                      Another relative sends me something from Harry and David every year, but it's always something either intentionally or unintentionally inedible.


                      1. re: ironmom

                        Um, I'm looking at H&D catalog right now. Didn't see anything that looked inedible??? Please tell me, what should I be avoiding? And please DON'T tell me it's those dried cherries covered with chocolate covered with a red shell - they sound sooo good.

                        1. re: Sarnie

                          Oh yeah, those red H&D shell-acked cherries are semi-addicting. A small box of them came with my gift yesterday, and were gone by early evening. The cherry, chocolate, and candy coating meld together as soon as you start chewing.

                          1. re: Nikel

                            Mmmm, now THAT'S what I wanted to hear! (Like I really need one more food addiction!)

                          2. re: Sarnie

                            One year I received petit fours which were garishly colored and stale. Another year I received an amaryllis which died before it was ready to bloom.

                      2. s
                        saucyknave (in curmudgeon state)

                        Does anyone else feel creepy at the notion of spending 5-6 times or more for grapefruit and oranges that granny or aunt sue can buy at the local grocer's? I've received such gifts in the past. (They are only marginally better - if that.)

                        Personally, I'd rather receive something out-of-the-way that I have no easy access to and that perhaps reflects my particular tastes or your knowledge. What about a personally chosen assortment (not the pre-fabed packages) of teas, jams, biscuits. Or a trip to an Italian deli for panforte, amaretti, and add a great Italian dessert wine? Or simply bake up a batch of biscotti or other special holiday cookies? That's if you love me. If you're a sales rep, than I'd still prefer a Tete d'Moins from D&D- and oh yeh, send the cutter with it. Or even a donation to a neighborhood art center or... (fill in the blank with the charity of your choice).

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: saucyknave (in curmudgeon state)

                          It would be nice to get something such as you describe, but only if it was reliably fresh. A lot of the national suppliers have food baskets full of stale cookies, and filler items I normally can get better at the local Italian shop.

                          Of course it would be a huge bonus for someone to go to the trouble of making me up a beautiful but reusable container of carefully selected delicacies, but they don't have the same tastes as I do, and I have better access than these (which is not saying much-just that they live in a more wasteland-like place than I do) so that's too much to hope for.

                          Sometimes supermarket grapefruit and oranges up here are so bad, dry, hard pockets in half or more of them (which you can't tell until you cut them open) and getting truly fresh grapefruit would be a blessing.

                          1. re: ironmom

                            They do LOOK appetizing, don't they? Wow.

                            Unfortunately, the pears, and the apples, are of necessity a variety carefully bred to look good, store well and ship successfully. Thus the thick skin, hard fruit upon arrival, not the absolute best flavor, etc. An additional challenge is if your mom lives alone, it may be challenging for her to eat a box of pears that ripen all at once. The bottom line is that the variety of fruits that ship well are rarely the variety of fruit that tastes best.

                            What can ship well, without a big compromise in quality,is smoked salmon, or fine chocolates, or a fresh christmas wreath...or tree! If you need a link to a website for Northwest sources for any of those items, let me know and I can post them.

                            That said, depending on where your Mom lives, she may not be able to get good fresh fruit locally, and a basket of even "shippable" fruit would be very welcome. I have received Texas ruby red grapefruit that was very welcome, since I live in the Northwest and don't know what a grapefruit fresh off the tree tastes like!

                            You know your Mom best, and a box of beautiful pears may be just the ticket. If that is true, maybe you might try sending a small box of Hale's, and a small box of Harry and David's and find out which one she likes best.
                            In sampling everything a chowhound trusts...

                            1. re: Olympia Jane

                              I'm the potential receiver here, and she's the potential sender. I've never sent people much food for the holidays, knowing that tastes may vary.

                              It's my mom who sends me fruit, since she lives in Florida, and I'm in Maine. And she's sent me Harry and David pears, which are far better than ok, especially compared to what we get in the supermarket.

                              She's not into smoked salmon, so no point in sending her any, even though they can't get it there, and no hope of receiving any, either.

                              (I just got a notice that if I renew my subscription to Saveur Magazine now, I can send a gift subscription at no cost, so guess what she's getting for Christmas.)

                              Now if there was an online registry of "Food products I would like to receive as gifts", I'd be filling that questionaire out so fast...

                              1. re: ironmom

                                Harry and David's pears ARE good. The best deal is the "seconds" I think they call them mavericks or something.

                                If you want citrus, you really can't go wrong with Cushman's, especially the Honeybells. Everyone has flipped that I've given them to, I usually order myself the first and last assortment (two boxes in January at the beginning and end of the month, the Honeybells are only available in January) in large quantities and take them to work, to meetings, etc. Never heard anything but raves. I haven't tried their grapefruit, but their other citrus, while superior, is pricey. The honeybell is essentially a mineola, but so superior as to be worth the price differential.

                        2. s

                          I once worked for a major specialty food catalog operation. While the product was perfectly acceptable it was not the finest and definately priced at the top end. What was sold was the novelty, the uniformity, the packaging, and the convenience. I myself love to get a "tower-of-treats" unexpectedly, my Mother though would just say "it must have cost you a fortune" and show me the lovely pears she had just picked up at the A&P. So, it depends entirely on your Mother, but it there are no dietary restrictions I would look for something that was more of an indulgent treat such as glaceed fruit from France or some wonderful cheeses, smoked fishies, or best of all a beautiful basket you assembled yourself....after all She's your Mom.

                          1. I'm not shilling for Harry & David, but I did grow up in Oregon--in old orchard land around Eugene--and Oregon pears (which is what Harry & David sell) are inarguably the best there is, at least domestically. (So are Oregon blackberries, apples, and filberts but those are other subjects altogether.) Would I buy Harry & David pears if I lived in Oregon? Are you nuts? Do I buy them in New York for myself? Knowing how cheap Oregon pears are at farm stands in the Rogue and Willamette Valleys? Are you nuts? But would I hesitate to send them to someone I wanted to treat lavishly, sure--you cannot find such pears in New York.

                            1. If you're dying to give (or get) Oregon fruit, but worry about shipping costs or hard, thick-skinned, tough-to-ripen fruit, you can try a more refined, or distilled version--eau-de-vie made in small batches from Oregon pears and other fruits by a distillery in Portland (run by a guy who used to run the Portland public transit system but who retired to take over his family's orchards in Hood River). It's called Clear Creek Distillery, and their Poire William eau-de-vie is spectacular, and they've got a website.

                              Link: http:www.clearcreekdistillery.com

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: psistrom

                                From the recommendation by psistrom, I ordered a bottle of their Eau de Vie de Pomme for a Christmas present. It sounds like amazing stuff. psistrom's link didn't work for me, so I'm attaching another one here:

                                There are shops that carry these products in and around NYC. The owner of Clear Creek got back to me by email promptly with places I could try, to have it shipped.

                                Link: http://clearcreekdistillery.com/index...

                                1. re: Pat Hammond

                                  Their framboise is fabulous.

                                  BTW, I am looking for Quince eau de vie (eau de vie aux coings), and having no luck. Does anyone know a source in the U.S.?

                                  1. re: ruth arcone

                                    The owner of Clear Creek, Steve McCarthy, might just know of someone who does quince. Email him. He was very nice to deal with. Pat

                                    P.S. I really debated about the raspberry, but it was just a mite too expensive. And the pear in a bottle! Amazing technique.

                                    1. re: ruth arcone

                                      St. George Spirits in Alameda, CA used to produce a wonderful quince eau de vie but I don't see it on their current product list. You might contact them to see whether they still make it. Here's the link:

                                      Link: http://www.stgeorgespirits.com

                                    2. re: Pat Hammond

                                      The Clear Creek eau de pomme IS amazing stuff. The pear flavor is simultaneously pronouced and full of subtle nuances. I hope you ordered a second bottle for yourself.

                                  2. Another option well worth considering is Diamond Organics (link below), who send fantastic in-season veggies and fruit via FedEx. Not inexpensive, but truly wonderful high-quality and great tasting stuff. Sure to be much appreciated by anyone who finds it difficult to get great organic veggies and fruit. I highly recommend the various sampler packs.

                                    Link: http://www.diamondorganics.com

                                    1. Today's edition of the Wall St. Journal has a very large story all about these clubs. Their number one rated club was Gotfruit.com, which got Best Overall and Best Value. They also rated Cushman's, Diamond Organics, Hale Groves and of course, Harry and David.

                                      As an extra added bonus they also rate some of the leading online flower providers such as Clubs of America, Calyx & Corolla, GreatFlowers.com, etc.

                                      For those still interested in this subject it would be worth the time to pick up today's WSJ and turn to their Weekend Journal section.

                                      1. My boss sent me a basket one year and it was delicious but, after seeing the price in the catalog, I would never buy it. The fruit consistently tastes good and is the same size but is really no better than what you can find at a good local market.

                                        Just as a side note to this, Harry & David also has outlet stores. I'm not sure of the exact locations but there is one near me at the Wrentham Outlets in Wrentham, MA. It is a good chance to pick up the non-perishables at a discount!

                                        1. I have ordered and eaten H & D pears for years and I think they are wonderful. I've never found supermarket pears of close to equivalent quality, even when I've found comice pears in markets. A properly ripened pear from H & D will be so sweet and juicy that, as you eat it, delicious nectar will drip down your chin.

                                          The other fruits (or even their pears in the summer which come from New Zealand) are not such consistent winners, though I've never tasted anything from them that wasn't good. Sometimes, this time of year, I will order combinations etc because it is easier than mall shopping. But if you stick to the pears (and that is what I am getting colleagues at work this year) your gift recipients should be pleased.