We're heading into fall fruit season, and while I'm not much of an apple person, I welcome pears with open arms. I'm not too picky about which varieties either — any and all, including those delicate Asian pears, are absolutely delicious to me.
I grew up believing that the best pears came in gift boxes around the holidays, and while those expensive pears are amazing, I learned that I can pick good ones out at the store myself instead. With a little know-how, you too can choose and ripen pears to perfection!
How to Shop for Regular Pears
- Common Varieties: Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Florelle, French Butter, Seckel, Starkrimson
- How they ripen: These pears actually ripen best off the tree, so they are harvested mature but not ripe. After they go through a brief chilling period, the pears ripen from the inside out.
- How to pick them: Your eating timeline determines how you pick pears. If you are looking for a ripe pear to eat immediately, press a finger gently into the top of the pear just where the stem joins the fruit. If it just starts to give there, the fruit is ripe. Don't buy pears that are soft anywhere else, as that indicates that they are overripe and the flesh will be mushy and mealy. If you want to eat the pears in a few days, the top should still be hard.
- How to store and ripen them: Store pears at room temperature, and depending on the variety, they will ripen in a few days. If you want to speed things up, place the pears in a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple — these other fruits give off ethylene gas, which the pears will soak up and then start to produce themselves, speeding up the ripening process.
How to Shop for Asian Pears (Apple Pears)
- Common Varieties: Asian, Apple, Chinese, Chojuro, Japanese, Korean, Nijisseiki, Shinko, Shinseiki, Taiwan
- How they're different from regular pears: These pears have a texture and shape much more similar to apples than regular pears. They are eaten crisp and are often sold in protective soft coverings to prevent bruising. The skin is brown or yellow in some varieties, and the brown ones have rough, russet potato-like skins.
- How they ripen: These pears do not need a chilling period before ripening and are mostly ripened on the tree.
- How to pick them: Again, your eating timeline determines how you pick these pears. If you are looking for a ripe pear to eat immediately, find a browner or more yellow-colored pear with no green undertones. There should be no soft spots on the pears, and it should be very firm. If you want to eat the pears in a few days, green is fine.
- How to store and ripen them: If the pears are not ripe, store at room temperature in a single layer until they darken in color. Once they are ripe, store in the refrigerator where they can actually last for a few weeks. Again, if you want to speed up the ripening, put them in a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple.