Our series “Whisk” offers sage advice on becoming a better home chef by using the best ingredients, tools, and techniques.

Harry & David was built on pears. This sweet, juicy, and delectable fruit is where the company’s roots were planted all the way back in 1934. And after 85-plus years of hand-picking and hand-packing millions of fruit, it’s safe to say Harry & David knows a few things about how to ripen pears.

Pears are notoriously tricky when it comes to ripening, as they can go from rock hard to mush in a matter of days (sometimes hours). Who hasn’t had the experience of leaving a pear on the counter for one minute too long and returning to something that resembles the consistency of baby food? With these seven tips, you’ll have perfect pears to share with friends and family. And even if they do get a little soft, you can still use your overripe pears in any number of recipes.

1. Cold storage

Unlike a lot of other tree-borne fruits, pears ripen after being picked and not while on the branch. Pears have a fairly narrow ripening stage, so it is best to store them in a cool, dry place. Once the pears are harvested, growers will generally take care of the chilling process for you.

2. Timing

Not all pears ripen at the same speed. Whereas Bartlett pears should be chilled at 30° F for two to three days, Bosc and Comice (pronounced ko-MEESE) pears should receive the same treatment for two to six weeks. When you receive your pears from Harry & David, they have already gone through the bulk of the chilling process and will usually be ready to eat in two to three days.

Important tip: Remove any rotten fruit during the chilling process, as one bad pear can spoil the whole bunch.

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3. Ripening temperatures

Once your pears have been stored for the appropriate amount of time, remove them from the cold and put them in a location that is between 65° and 75° F. According to the Oregon State University Extension, Bartlett pears ripen in four to five days, whereas Bosc and Comice pears need five to seven days to reach peak ripeness. Given that this is simply a guide and not a law (though we’re looking into if making it a law is possible), the best way to detect whether your pear is ready to eat is the thumb test.

4. The thumb test

Check your pear daily for ripeness by applying gentle pressure to the neck or stem-end of the pear with your thumb. If the pear yields to pressure, it’s ready to eat. Could it get any easier?

5. The banana trick

If you don’t have a lot of time to wait for your pears to ripen, use the tried and true banana trick. Place your pears in a paper bag or an enclosed area with a ripe banana or apple. Ripe apples and bananas give off a gas called ethylene that triggers the ripening process in unripe pears. You gotta love science!

6. Put your pears together

Ripe pears give off ethylene gas too, so storing them together with your un-ripe pears in a sack or bucket will cause the rest to ripen. If you listen closely, you can hear them talking to each other, offering words of encouragement. “You can do it, Bill! Ripen like you’ve never ripened before!”

7. Slow it down

If you’re not quite ready to enjoy your pears, you can easily slow down the ripening process by storing them in the refrigerator. Yes, it’s that simple.

If all else fails, overripe pears are still viable in the kitchen. Just peel and chop them, and you have the perfect beginning to any number of pear recipes, from a pie to a cakesmoothie, and other fresh delights.

Author

At Harry & David, we deliver expertly crafted delight.

8 Comments

  1. Hello! Are ripening instructions included in your pear gifts?
    Thank you!

  2. Steve E Gillilan Reply

    When stored in the fridge should they be taken out of the box and out of the foil.

    Thank You !

    Steve

  3. I bought two boxes of Pears as gifts for friends, unfortunately when i gave them to them they were overripe and rotten in the box 🙁

  4. Lucille Travis Reply

    We just got a lovely gift box of Royal Rivier pears, and they are test ripe so how do I store them in the refrigerator? Should I keep them in the box covered as they came ?

    • Lucille, we are sorry for the delay in answering you.

      Once the Royal Riviera Pears are ripe, the pears can stay stored in the box or pulled out and placed where it is safe. We hope you enjoyed your gift. Please contact us at social@harryanddavid.com if you have any further questions.

  5. I cannot find any information on the internet anywhere. When baking a pear and apple pie do the PEARS have to be ripe. No where in anything does it say. Lots of information how to ripen over time. I want to go buy today and use NOW. Please reply. tks KJ from Oshawa an e mail would be helpful…

  6. Tiffany Burton Reply

    Hi. I have a question about store bought pears. I bought three pears over a week ago and they are hard and tasteless. They are bartlett pears will they ever get soft and juicy or did I buy bad pears (if there is such a thing)?

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