How to Ripen Pears

Pears are my latest fruit addiction. I love this fruit for its unique, grainy texture and sweet, juicy flavor. In fact, combining a ripe pear with gourmet cheese and crackers has turned into an easy and tasty appetizer (and admittedly, sometimes a dinner) at my house.

The most common question we get from people about pears is “how do you ripen them?” Indeed, ripening a pear can be tricky due to the fact that most pears do not change color as they ripen, and pears are typically close to – but not quite ripe – when you purchase them at the store.

Growers harvest pears once they are mature, but in the pear world, maturity means the fruit is not fully ripened. If growers allowed pears to ripen on the tree, the core of the fruit would breakdown, causing an unappetizing mushy or mealy texture when they arrived at grocery stores (and no one wants that!). Harvesting pears at the right pressures leads to fruit that will ripen to good quality. At Stemilt, we do just that and cool them immediately after harvest in order to deliver premium pears to your stores.

In this post, I’ll answer the common pear ripening question by showing you two methods for ripening pears at home. I’ll also share a simple strategy for determining when a pear is ripe and ready to eat.

How to Ripen Pears: In a Brown Paper Bag

If the pears you brought home from the store are still a little hard and not quite ripe, then you might want to try ripening them in a bag at room temperature. Cold temperatures slow down the ripening process, so storing ripe pears in the refrigerator is the best way to maintain quality. Like bananas and avocados, pears naturally release ethylene gas (a ripening hormone) as they ripen. Placing the pears in a brown paper bag keeps ethylene close to the fruit and speeds up ripening. Any bag would work, but paper is preferred over plastic as it allows the fruit to breathe.

How To Ripen A Pear With Other Ethylene-Producing Fruits

Another way to ripen pears is to place them next to fruits like bananas, avocados, or apples (perhaps in a fruit bowl). These fruits also give off ethylene gas, and the extra exposure to ethylene induces ripening in pears. To really speed up the pear ripening process, combine two ethylene producing fruits (such as bananas + pears) in a paper bag and leave the bag at room temperature. Don’t forget to check the pears often for ripeness if you use this method.

When Are Pears Ripe?

No matter which method of ripening you choose, you’ll want to know how to tell when a pear is ripe and ready to eat. Some pears, like the Bartlett variety, change color as they ripen (Bartlett goes from green to yellow), but many other pears, including d’Anjou, do not. To determine ripeness, hold the pear in the palm of your hand and then gently apply pressure into the neck of the pear with your thumb. Once the skin of the pear gives to that pressure (even if it gives slightly), it is ripe and ready to eat.

There is definitely a fine line when it comes to pear ripening (they can quickly go from underripe to overripe), and so it’s important to check the neck for ripeness daily, especially when you are following a method that speeds up ripening. Most pears should be ready to eat within a few days after purchase. Be sure to place ripe pears that you are not using in the refrigerator to maximize freshness.

Share with us! What is your preferred method for ripening pears? Is it different from the two methods described above?


12 Responses

  1. Hi:I bought 2 bags of Stemilt pears and both bags had gone bad with half of the pears skin going bad that is quite a waste when you pay $1.00 per lb. I think you should inform the Canadian Superstore about storage of the pears..Thanks Nestor Hrabinski.

  2. Just bought a 2# bag of your organic bartlett pears, every pears is in excellent condition, but just wondering what the white residue is that is on each pear. After handling the pears, my hands feel very dry. Please advise.

  3. I have had a small bag of D’Anjou pears out and in a wire basket for almost a week. I tried the banana + pear in a bag method on a couple as well.

    They are all still rock hard. One gave a little bit at stem end so I cut it up. It was very hard and crunchy still. Are D’Anjou pears particularly hard to ripen? Do they take a long time? I am dying to eat them!!

    • Hi Katy,

      They can be difficult to ripen, but should’ve ripened after a week! Can you tell me where you purchased these pears? I’d like to let our quality team know of this issue you are having. Sorry they aren’t ripening up for you. This is definitely not what we want. You could give it a few more days to see if something will change, but I worry they may brown on the inside before they ripen this time around because of how long it is taking.

  4. Hello, I am also having the same issues as Katy Wilkins. Purchased Bartlett pears 2 weeks ago from Canadian Superstore and they are in my fruit bowl. Still remain rock hard. Cut one up and not all that pleasant to eat. Very odd. Thanks

    • Hi Angela, Very sorry about that! Are you sure they are Bartlett pears from Stemilt? We have been out of those for some time. Bartlett’s will turn from green to yellow when ripe. D’Anjou pears do not, and will need to sit by a ethylene producing fruit like a banana to ripen.

  5. Thanks. I have two pear trees in my yard (one D’Anjou and one Bartlett), and the decision when to pick the fruit is challenging. If I leave them on the tree too long – the wasp and bees harvest the fruit, leaving only the skin. Many of my friends from Asia Region prefer the pears crispy and firm over my preference for softness. Will try brown paper bag recommendation.

    • If you have a way to test the pressure of the pear, that is how our growers determine when to pick. You can also follow days post bloom as a guide. Washington State University is a great resource for these specifics. Hope you have better luck this fall!

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