Through fun and informative articles, the “Power of Fruit” series spotlights a fruit’s origins, shares recipes, offers seasonal guides and instructional videos, and emphasizes sustainability practices of the farms who grow them.
Harry & David was built on pears. This sweet, juicy, and delectable fruit is where their roots were planted all the way back in 1934. And after 85-plus years of hand-picking and hand-packing millions, it’s safe to say the Southern Oregon-based company knows a few tips and tricks on how to ripen pears.
1. Cold storage
Unlike many other tree-borne fruits, pears ripen after being picked and not while on the tree. How about that? Best stored in a cool, dry place, the ripening stage is fairly narrow, leaving little room for error as pears can spoil within a matter of hours. Once harvested, growers will generally take care of the chilling process for you. That’s so thoughtful. So, when you purchase your favorite Royal Riviera® Pears, you can rest assured they’re ready to enjoy.
Not all pears ripen at the same speed. While Bartlett pears should be chilled at 30° F for two to three days, Bosc and Comice pears should be chilled for two to six weeks. Important tip: Remove any spoiled fruit during the chilling process, as one spoiled pear can turn a whole batch bad.
3. Ripening temperatures
Once your pears have been stored for the appropriate amount of time, they’ll ripen best between 65° and 75° F. According to the Oregon State University Extension, Bartlett pears ripen in four to five days, while 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 or not your pear is ready to eat is the thumb test.
4. The thumb test
Check the neck of 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. The thumb test — it’s that easy.
5. The banana trick
A trick of the trade to hasten the ripening process with pears is to place them in a paper bag or enclosed area with a banana or ripe 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 by storing all of yours together in a sack or bucket, the already ripe pears will boost the rest to do the same. 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!”
As each fruit starts to ripen, it triggers the rest of the batch.
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.
8. Never waste a pear
Overripe pears are still viable in the kitchen and can still be just as tasty with the help of a few pear recipes. Just peel and chop them and you have the perfect beginning to a pear pie, cake, smoothie, and other fresh delights.