Harvesting Pears and Other Fruit

The best way to tell when fruit is ready to harvest is often the simple taste test. This is good advice for apples, peaches, plums and grapes.

Pears are the exception. “Tree ripened” pears will not be satisfactory. Pears left on trees ripen from the inside out and stone cells fully develop making for “gritty” eating. When the outside is ready, the inside is often brown mush. If picked slightly immature, they ripen uniformly with a smoother flesh consistency.

Harvest most European pears such as ’Bartlett’ and ‘D’Anjou’ when they easily detach from trees. Tilt them upward to horizontal and they come loose when ready for harvest. ‘Bosc’ pears are always difficult to separate from the tree and stems may have to be clipped with a sharp pruner. All pears should feel hard when picked.

Disregard the red blush on varieties that develop it such as D’Anjou. The ground color of the pear skin will change to more closely resemble the mature pear of that variety. With Bartlett and D’Anjou and other yellow pear varieties, skin becomes a lighter green.

Ripen pears indoors. Some pears such as D’Anjou require cold storage before ripening. Bartlett does not but 2 days of chilling may help even ripening. D’Anjou and Bosc should be chilled for 2 weeks in the refrigerator away from apples, onions, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables.

Ripen at room temperature, 65 to 75 degrees F. Warm temperatures of 85 degrees F or higher interfere with ripening. Bartlett pears generally ripen in 5 days, Bosc in 7 days and D’Anjou in 7 to 10 days. The longer pears are chilled, the shorter the ripening time when removed from cold storage.

Pears are ready to eat when the flesh just below the stem yields evenly to gentle pressure.

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Updated Friday, April 19, 2013