A popular and nutritious fall fruit, pears are at their peak right now — but you have to know how to pick ‘em.
Contrary to what you might think, pears are one of the few fruits that don’t actually ripen on the plant, so they’re harvested as soon as they’re fully grown. Once taken off of the tree, most commercial pears go through a chilling period that kick-starts the ripening process. After a pear has been chilled and placed on the fruit stand, it will slowly begin to ripen at room temperature, getting sweeter and juicier with time. This usually takes about 4-5 days for Bartlett, 5-7 days for Bosc and Comice, and 7-10 days for Anjou pears. One important thing to note is that pears must ripen at room temperature, so be sure to keep them out of the crisper until they’re ready to eat.
Most pear varieties don’t experience much color change as they ripen, with the exception of Bartlett pears which get brighter as they approach peak ripeness (and sweetness), going from green to golden. So, how do you know when a pear, no matter the type, is perfectly ripe? All you need to do is Check the Neck™.
To do this, hold the pear firmly in the palm of your hand and use your thumb to gently press the flesh just below where the stem joins the fruit. If it yields to pressure, it’s ripe and ready to eat. If the neck is still pretty firm, try checking again the following day. Once ripe, store the ripe pear in the refrigerator to slow the ripening process and save it for another day.
Of course, you can always help the ripening process along if your patience for enjoying a juicy pear is wearing thin. Simply place unripe pears in a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple, and the (naturally occurring) ethylene gas will help speed things up a bit.
Keep in mind that pears only remain perfectly ripe for a short period of time — usually a couple of days if left on the counter or up to five days if moved to the refrigerator. All’s not lost if you happen to let them go a day too long, though! Overripe pears bake up great in the oven and also make wonderful additions to smoothies.
Now that you know how to choose a perfectly ripe pear, here are 5 easy, nutritious pear snacks to try.