Pear Facts, Picking Tips and Recipes
In the U.S.,
Pears typically peak during
late August through September in the South, and September and October in the North. In order to produce
good local pears, producers depend on ideal spring and early summer weather conditions,
and no late frosts.
Now, here's the surprise: pears are picked unripe and left to ripe in a cool,
dry, dark place (like a basement or garage). If you wait for them to ripen
on the tree, you probably won't harvest many - they'll rot and be attacked by
bugs and birds.
Before you leave to go to the farm:
Always call before you go to the farm -
Most growers furnish picking containers designed
for pears, but they may charge you for them; be sure to call before you go to see if you need to bring
If you use your own containers, Pears are fairly durable. Plastic dishpans, metal oven pans with 3 inch tall sides and large
pots make good containers.
Bring something to drink and a few snacks; you'd be surprised how you can
work up a thirst and appetite! And don't forget hats and sunscreen for the
sun. Bugs usually aren't a problem, but some deet might be good to bring
along if it has been rainy.
When you get home
- Spread the fruit out on towels or newspapers and separate any mushy or
damaged fruit to use immediately.
- Now, get ready to make
How to tell if the pears are ripe!
The fruit can be ripened on the tree,
but for better quality, they are best picked early and allowed to ripen indoors.
Pears have a characteristically gritty texture caused by cells in the meat
called stone cells. Although modern varieties have fewer of these stone cells,
all varieties still contain them. Picking the pears before they have matured and
holding them under cool controlled conditions prevents the formation of too many
stone cells, and results in a less gritty pear!
Pears are delicate even when they're hard and green, so they're always picked by
hand. A few guidelines to use in determining whether pears are ready to be
- Attached to the tree: Pears are best picked when the fruit
separates easily from the twigs. If it is hard to pull off the tree, it isn't
- Texture: A pear ready to be picked should have a feeling of
springiness to its flesh. Close your hand around one and squeeze. If it
feels absolutely rock hard, it's still not ready. You should be able to
detect a slight feeling of give, but not too much.
- Drops: when healthy fruits begin to drop, the others on the tree
- Color: there is a change in fruit color from green to yellow; and
the stem separates easily from the branch. To pick pears, grasp the fruit
firmly and twist or roll it to make the stem separate from the tree.
- Asian pears, unlike European pears, should be allowed to ripen on
the tree. They need no after-ripening storage period. Asian pears are ready
for harvest when they come away easily from the spur or branch when they are
lifted and twisted slightly. Use the taste test; they're ready when they
taste good. Asian pears should be crisp and crunchy when eaten.
Marks on the Pears: Bugs (particularly squash bugs and stink bugs) bite fruit during
development and this results in some imperfections in the pear. This is
especially the case with organically raised fruit. These look like dents
in the pears if the pears were bitten by a bug when they were young. This
causes a spot that does not grow properly and makes a wrinkle in the pear.
There's nothing wrong with these pears. They may look funny, but they will
taste just as good as blemish-free pears, and it's better not to have the
How much do you need?
- About 2 medium pears = 1 cup sliced pears.
- About 4 medium pears = 1 cup pureed pear.
- About 3 medium pears = 1 pound of pears
- Carbohydrates make up 98% of the energy provided by a pear.
- Pears provide a natural quick source of energy, due largely to high
amounts of two monosaccharides: fructose and glucose.
- A pear provides 30% more potassium than an apple. Potassium is necessary
for maintaining heartbeat, muscle
contraction, nerve transmission, and carbohydrate and protein metabolism.
- One medium pear provides 11% of the RDA for ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
- A pear, with skin, weighing 166 grams, provides 2.32 grams of crude
fiber, and 4.5 grams of dietary fiber, of
which 41% is pectin.
Pear Nutrient Values Based on 1 medium fresh pear, 166 grams
Nutrient Amt. in % of a Pear **RDA
- Calories 100
- Protein .65 g 1.5%
- Fat .66 g
- Carbohydrates 25 g
- Pectin 1.8 g
- Total Dietary Fiber 4.5 g
- Crude Fiber 2.32 g
- Vitamin A 33 IU 1%
- Thiamin .03 mg 3%
- Riboflavin .07 mg 6%
- Niacin .17 mg 1%
- Pantothenic Acid 12 mg
- Folacin 12.1 mcg 3%
- Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) 7 mg 11%
- Vitamin E .83 mg 10%
- Calcium 19 mg 2%
- Phosphorus 18 mg 2%
- Copper .19 mg
- Iron .41 mg 2%
- Magnesium 9 mg 3%
- Potassium 208 mg
* Handbook 8-9, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1982
** RDA for Female 23-50 yrs., weight 58kg (128 lbs)
Temporary Storage and Ripening Tips
Most supermarkets don't sell really
ripe pears because they bruise so easily, but it's very easy to ripen them
at home. If pears are picked before they are fully ripe, they should
be ripened at a temperature of 60° to 70°F. This will result in optimum
quality and smoothness of flesh. If you want to keep pears for a longer
period of time, store the freshly picked fruit in the refrigerator. They'll
keep for many weeks!
Preserving the fruit
- For canning directions,
Did you know you can make pear-sauce - just like
applesauce, except you remove the
pits before cooking them. You can still use a foley food mill and
sieve, or you can peel them first!
- Freezing Pears
my page on how to freeze
peaches, plums, nectarines, figs and cherries. Even easier than canning
and they will taste just like fresh.. but it does take up space in the
- Pear butter
you like apple butter and you like pears, you'll LOVE this
easy pear butter recipe,
complete with canning instructions, so you can make them now and give them
away at Christmas time!
Substituting Frozen or Canned Pears for Fresh
In most recipes, frozen or canned pears can be substituted for fresh
pears. The frozen and canned pears have already been sweetened; therefore,
the amount of sugar called for in a recipe will have to be adjusted. Also, the
pears should usually be drained before using.
Home Canning Kits
- Everything you need to get started with waterbath
canning (fruits,pickles, jams, jellies, salsa, sauces
- 21-1/2 qt. enamel water bath canner
- Funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter, bubble freer
- Ball Blue Book
This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother
used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and
spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and
lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs,
lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel,
labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It's
much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids! To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!For more information
and current pricing:
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