So how do you like your pears? Mushy in the middle? Rock hard?
There are a few tricks in the ripening process that you really should know if you buy them from the orchard, if you have friends who give them to you, or if you’re going to grow your own.
I remember coveting our neighbor’s pear orchard as I grew up. We grew about every fruit there was to grow on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies with the exception of pears. Year after year I would watch as the neighbor’s pears grew larger and larger and then began dropping to the ground. Sometimes he would harvest them, but most times he did not. Perhaps he didn’t understand a few things about when to harvest pears.
It’s quite possible that he was like many rookie farmers when it comes to pears. I wonder if he picked those pears when they were too green. That’s when they’re hard as a rock! And then again he might have picked them when they were beyond the jamming stage!
Five years ago, the house we bought came with two pear trees. Finally, I But what a shocking surprise!
The D’Anjou pears fell off the tree and were mighty mushy to be eating. Not wanting that to happen to the pears I went ahead and picked them. They were hard as rocks! Though I knew quite a bit about other fruits, I obviously had lots to learn about pears. Allow me to share a few a things with you:
Taking control of your pear’s ripeness
Pears left to ripen on the tree become over ripe. This may cause a mealy, course texture that becomes rotten to the core. Because of this pears need to be picked when they’re slightly immature. The time to pick most pears is when lifting the fruit sideways and upwards you detach it from the tree. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with the Bosc pear so you’ll have to experiment a bit there.
In the commercial industry pears are picked and then chilled down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The fructose within the pear acts like antifreeze so the pears don’t actually freeze. Bartlett pears need to be chilled like this for a couple days. Anjou, Bosc, and Comice pears need 2 to 6 weeks of chilling. You can do this also, perhaps using a used refrigerator in your basement/garage.
Time for warm ups
After this chilling time has been completed you want to warm the fruit up to about 70 degrees. Leave the Bartlett pears at this temp for 4 to 5 days. The Bosc and Comice pears will need to be left at this temp for about a week. The Anjou pears usually take just over a week.
During this time the pears produce ethylene gas, which acts like a ripening hormone. Apples produce large amounts of this gas so if you wish you may place an apple in a closed cardboard box of pears and speed up the ripening time.
Periodically, check to see if your fruit is ready. To do this try to indent the pear using your thumb. When the pear indents easily you will know that it’s ready to be stored in your refrigerator. When you are ready to preserve, jam, butter, or just eat them they’ll be ripe and ready.
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