Pears are among the oldest fruits and have been enjoyed since ancient times.
A ripe pear is not only delightfully sweet but is also an excellent addition to a balanced diet.
The problem is, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, you only have 10 minutes to enjoy a perfectly ripe pear.
Sure, he probably was exaggerating, but it is true that many home growers struggle to determine the best harvest time for pears.
When to harvest pears? Harvest your pears from late August to early October. They should be picked before they ripen (when they are still hard and green) because pears do not ripen on the tree. Left on the tree, they would ripen from the inside out.
How Do You Know When Your Pears Are Ready to Harvest?
Knowing if a pear is at its ideal harvest maturity is not easy.
Because the changes are not easily noticeable, it will take a bit of trial and error to develop a feel for when they are ready.
To give you the best chance, here are some tell-tale signs that it’s the right time to pick them:
As someone growing pears for the first time, one of the best indicators of harvest time is the fruit’s color.
When the color turns slightly yellow from green, you can start harvesting your pears.
It is subtle, but a softening of the pear’s texture from very hard to somehow firm is also an indication for you to pick your pear.
Immature pears are slightly smaller in size compared to mature ones.
In that case, you should look for bigger pears with fully formed shapes when figuring out which fruits to pick.
Ease of Picking
How easy they are to pick is the best way to tell if your pears are ready to pick.
To do this, you will want to choose one pear fruit, hold it in your hand, and tilt it horizontally.
A mature fruit will easily snap off the branch at this angle. If it holds on to the branch, it is not yet ready for picking.
How To Harvest Pears?
Similar to apricots and bananas, pears should be picked before they are ripe.
Then again, you shouldn’t harvest them too early, as doing so will most probably result in a difference in flavor and storage life.
Here’s what you should do to ensure the best taste, texture, and storage for your pears:
Step 1: Wait for the subtle lightening in color.
For most varieties, you should harvest pears once they begin to lighten their colors.
The immature and young fruit are deep green in color and will be slightly yellow once mature.
If you have European pears (Bartlett pears, for example), you should start harvesting when they begin to turn yellow.
The pears should still be hard, though. They will ripen after harvesting.
For Asian pears, you should harvest them once they are ripe and sweet.
Step 2: Pick pears by hand.
Harvesting pears is as easy as one, two, three.
As mentioned, when a pear is ready to be picked, it will easily come off the tree when you slightly twist or tip its stem.
To do this, just hold the pear in your hand and twist it slightly.
If it is ready, it will snap off the tree; if it isn’t, it will hold on to the branch.
In case it does not snap off easily, give it a few more days to mature and just move on to the next fruit.
Again, you wouldn’t want to pick immature pears. They will not have the best flavor or texture.
Can You Eat Pears Immediately After Harvesting?
There is one variety of pear that is ready to eat once harvested: the Asian pear.
The Asian pear is unique among pear varieties because they are the only one that ripens on the tree.
Other than this, all pears are picked unripe and should go through the ripening process before consumption.
How to Ripen Pears?
A homegrown pear and a store-bought pear have different ripening processes.
Many commercial pears are put to cold storage as soon as they are harvested.
For this reason, a store-bought pear should just ripen on the counter and not be put in a refrigerator.
Cold Storage + Kitchen Counter
Only put pears harvested from your own tree to cold storage.
Home growers put pears into cold storage not only to prolong the life of the pears but also to help with the ripening process.
How long you put them in cold storage depends on the pear varieties.
For instance, Asian pears do not need any cold storage, whereas European pears require the longest.
In general, briefly cooling down any pear variety may help in giving it a better flavor and texture.
Cold storage can be done simply by putting your pears in a refrigerator or a cool basement for a week.
However, even if you don’t have a place for cold storage, your homegrown pears will still ripen at room temperature.
After all, cold storage is not required to have a great-tasting pear; it just provides the most consistent and most ideal results.
Cold storage, though, is only the first step to ripening.
After putting them in cold storage, you should ripen the fruit on a countertop at room temperature.
At this stage, you will want to check your pears daily to prevent them from rotting.
You can also speed up the ripening process of your pears.
To do this, place a few bananas or apples next to your pear. Doing this will hasten the ripening process because these fruits give off ethylene gas.
Besides placing them on the kitchen counter next to apples or bananas, there is a quicker way to ripen pears.
Place your pears in a paper bag together with an apple or a banana, and the ripening process will be even faster.
Remember not to refrigerate your pear until it is fully ripe.
The Thumb Test
You can test if your pear is ripe by pressing the flesh of its neck. If it gives a little, your pear is ripe.
Once ripe, you can put your pear in a refrigerator for a day to hold it at that mature state until you are ready to consume it.
What Happens if You Don’t Harvest Pears?
As mentioned earlier, pears are picked off the tree before they ripen.
They are among the few fruits that must be picked unripe and allowed to ripen off the tree.
The reason behind this is that they need time for the sugars to develop once you pick them off the tree.
Otherwise, you’ll have a pear that is crunchy and unsweet.
So, what happens if you leave your pears on the tree and never harvest them?
Left on a tree, a pear will over-ripen from the inside out.
The center will rot before the outside softens, so it is best to pick your pears when they mature.
Among the many pear varieties, only Asian pears should be left to ripen on the tree.
What to Do with Overripe Pears?
You now know that leaving pears too long on the tree means risking the insides becoming mushy and fibrous.
If you had no other choice but not to harvest them, does that mean you won’t have any use for your pears anymore?
4 Ways to Prepare Overripe Pears:
A perfectly ripe pear is one of the sweetest delights in the world.
Still, there will be times when you will have pears that are past their perfectly ripe stage.
They will become unappealing and mushy, but you can still use these and not just throw them away.
There is an unending list of what you can do to overripe pears, but some of the easier ones are listed below:
You can turn your overripe pears into a pear jam, but remember, you will need a lot of pears for this.
Even better, you can achieve a uniquely refreshing taste depending on the variety of pear you decide to use.
Overripe fruit is perfect for freezing and eventually for use in smoothies. The same goes for overripe pears.
Just remove any bad parts, set aside the remaining good portions, and put them in the freezer.
You’ve probably heard of applesauce, but you should also try pear sauce. For this, all you’ll need are water, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon.
You can mash your browning pears and use them as toppings to pancakes and even ice cream.
Fruit is always a great complement to breakfast and cold desserts.
Pears are juicy, smooth, buttery, and deliciously sweet.
However, aside from their delightful taste, they are also packed with all kinds of nutrients.
They are rich in plant compounds, dietary fiber, and essential antioxidants, which help fight inflammation and promote heart and gut health.
Eating pears also protect you against certain diseases and even aids weight loss.
With that in mind, we can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t enjoy growing pears.