picking and ripening pears

It’s strange to think we need to be taught how to ripen pears. Don’t plants do this sort of thing on their own, without busybody humans getting into their business?

The thing is, pears are one of the only fruits that don’t ripen on the tree/vine. A tree-ripened pear is mealy and mushy. So pears are best picked green. Many folks have come to believe that pears are picked green in order to truck here and there around the country without bruising them. That’s true for many fruits but not so for pears. You gotta pick them mature but green.

So how can you tell if they are mature? Walk up to a suspect pear and tip it so it’s horizontal. If it’s ready, it should detach from the tree. Those pears on the ground might be perfectly fine to use, too, if they’re still hard.

The pears in this picture are all “green,” even the one on top, which got a “suntan” so it has a rosy spot. Despite this the pears are all pretty darn hard.

Fruit produces a natural ethylene gas, which causes it to ripen. The riper it gets, the more gas it gives off, which will cause the other fruit around it to ripen too. So to ripen pears faster, you should enclose them so this gas will be trapped around the fruit. A paper grocery sack works. (Don’t use plastic.) The Damsel is ashamed to admit there wasn’t a SINGLE PAPER BAG in the cottage so she put them in a basket and put a cloth over the top.

If you want to give it a little nudge in the ripe direction, put a banana in with the pears. Bananas give off a ton of that special gas. Ahem.

So now they’ve been in the gas bag a day or two. How do you tell if they are ripe? After all, they’ll still look pretty much the same as ever. Just gently press with a finger near the stem, on the pear’s “shoulder.” A ripe pear will give a little.

They say the best way to eat a ripe pear is naked in the bathtub, so the juice can drip down your chin with abandon. If you try this, the Damsel would prefer not to hear about it.

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14 thoughts on “picking and ripening pears

  1. I love it! I learned something new…..I did NOT know that pears don’t ripen on the tree. Sooo, it’s OK to buy those hard pears in the grocery stores and use this method to ripen. I’ve got to try that. Thanks.

    Oh yeah, I like the banana trick, too.

  2. Great info! I’ve also learned that a pear is one of the only fruits that doesn’t have to be ripe to cook with it. So all the pear bread, pear muffins, and my favorite — fresh pear pie — the pears can be still hard when you use them.

  3. I’ve heard that apples are the best fruits to use as ripening partners because they give off the most gas. What say you? 🙂

  4. Bartlett pears turn yellow when ripe. I just bought 144 pounds of pears to can. I bought 4 boxes of them, and on the box it tells you not only that they are yellow-skinned when ripe, but that they ripen best at 65º to 72º. I keep mine in my pantry, which is kept at 65º. When they are yellow, they are easily blanched and canned. I’m not in a hurry to have my ripen, as I also bought 324lbs of peaches the same day I bough the pears. I’m finishing up canning the peaches, and then I’m working on the pears.

    • Wow, that’s a lot of fruit!

      By the way, I bookmarked your site to look around when I get a minute. Looks like a wonderful resource.

  5. Pingback: Real Self Reliance » The Self Reliant Digest #14

  6. Love to hear someone who understands the power of that special gas. Fresh fruit is not! allowed in my flower cooler! The fruit just doesn’t know how to keep to itself and leave my flowers alone. My pristine petals become scarlet scofflaws in no time at all.

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