The Careful Art of Picking and Ripening the Perfect Pear

Harrow’s Delight Pear

Have you ever picked or bought pears that were rock hard, and stayed that way? How about the super mushy yet gritty ones? Yeah. Blech. Those were pears that were picked and/or not ripened properly. It took me a few years to read up on pears and figure out why most of mine were awful, and here dear readers, is what I have learned.

Unlike most fruits, pears are picked at the “mature” not ripe stage. You see, pears ripen from the inside out, so when they are perfectly ripe on the outside to the touch, they are usually rotten at the core. Tricky. Instead, pears are picked when they are still hard on the tree. So how is a pear lover to know when they are ready?

There are a few signs:
1. If you can lift a pear horizontal to the branch, and the stem naturally snaps, it is ready to pick
2. if you see some ripe pears fallen to the ground, that is a good sign at least some of the fruit is ready to pick
3. Some peas will develop a rosy or red blush on at least one side when they are ready to pick
4. If you cut a pear open through th center, a ripe pear will have brown seeds instead of white ones

If none of that is scientific enough for you, you can buy a tool called a penetrometer. No I did not make that up. It measures the surface pressure of the fruit and gives you a scale by which to determine if the fruit is ripe. I have one, but I never use it.

Once mature pears are picked, they then must be kept at a cool temperature, the inside of your refrigerator is great, for a week or two. Then, finally, the pears can be brought to room temperature, and should have perfectly ripened flesh throughout the fruit. I am picking the earliest two pear varieties from my orchard this week. Harrow’s Delight is the first to mature, followed a week or two later by the old Bartletts that were here when we moved in.

IMG_8479.JPG