B. Rosie Lerner
Purdue Extension


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Pears Best Ripened Off the Tree

One advantage to growing your own fruit trees is that you can get tree-ripened fruit, a real rarity in the grocery store. But, unlike other fruits, pears will reach their best quality when ripened off the tree.

When left to ripen on the tree, most cultivars of pears leave something to be desired in terms of texture and flavor. Tree-ripened pears often turn soft and brown at the core and have an excessively grainy texture.

There are several indicators that help you determine when to begin harvesting pears. The most obvious sign is a color change. Pick pears when their color changes from a dark- to light- or yellowish-green, but before they are fully yellow. The fruit should be relatively firm. The small dots on the skin, called lenticels, should turn from whitish to corky brown.

Mature fruit will separate easily from its spur by lifting and twisting. Slice open a fruit to check the seeds inside. The seed coats should have turned from white to brown. Fruit on heavily loaded trees usually mature a little slower.

Mature pears should ripen within a few days, if stored at 60-70 F and high relative humidity (80-85 percent). Pears will ripen even faster if stored with other pears in a closed container, such as a paper sack. Ripening fruit gives off a gas called ethylene, which in turn stimulates further ripening. Ripened pears should "give a bit" when pressed near the stem end.

If longer-term storage is desired, chill the pears to 32-35 F as soon as possible after harvesting. Perforated plastic bags can be used to keep relative humidity high. Be careful not to bruise or puncture the fruit, as injuries provide an entry for decay organisms. Although different cultivars of pears vary in their maximum storage time, most can be held from two to four months under ideal conditions.


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox