Ripening Pears

If I had a quarter for every time someone asked me if I use the pears that hang over the fence into my yard, I’d be rich! And I don’t blame people for asking. My neighbors have a beautiful pear tree (Comice, I think?) and I’m grateful to have almost half of its branches grace me with their presence. They add as much character to my patio as if the tree was on my side of the property line. But the truth is, I’ve never figured out how to properly harvest and ripen the damn things! I’ve tried before. When the big, beautiful pears started dropping onto my patio last year, I plopped a bunch of rock-hard fruit into a brown paper bag and waited hopefully only to end up with still rock-hard pears or mush. This year though, the site of the potential bounty was just too much. I needed to do some research and make this happen. I made that my intention, asked my neighbors for permission to pick with the promise of reciprocating the love in canned goods and proceeded to harvest 35 pounds of beautiful pears. They just gave me another 8 1/2 pound bag of them, so that makes over 40 pounds! I found this super informative article from the OSU Extension and I most definitely learned a thing or two. I’m going to give you the gist. Leaving the pears to ripen on the tree won’t work – they’ll ripen from the inside out. There is a process, but it’s not that difficult. Here are the big ideas:

  • Pick ’em when they’re ripe – which means, if you lift the pear up so it’s horizontal and it snaps right off the tree, it’s ripe for the picking.
  • Cool ’em down – Pears need to be cooled before ripening at room temperature. Commercial growers bring them down to 30 degrees. So since my freezer is too cold and my fridge is 38 degrees, that is where they went – into the fridge. Barlett pears only need a couple days in the fridge, but others should stay cool for 2 to 6 weeks. Since I’m not exactly sure what type mine are, I’m going to keep mine in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.
  • Ripen in a bag – Once they’ve gone through a chilling process, then you can ripen them as you would most other fruit. Most pears will ripen to perfection in about 5 – 7 days, but must be watched closely so they don’t get too mushy. To speed up the ripening process, the pears can be put into a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple.

My pears still need another week or so in the fridge, but once I complete the ripening process, I’ll let you know how I fared. I see pear butter and pear sauce in my future!

7 thoughts on “Ripening Pears

  1. Katie

    thanks for the tips. my husband just brought home a few pears from one of his job sites last week. they are a bit firm like an apple, but plenty sweet. hoping he can bring more home this week so I can do some canning. gotta love free fruit!

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