How to Pick a Perfect Pear

It's not hard to find good pears at the store and ripen them to juicy deliciousness.

They always seem to play second fiddle to apples, but pears are truly wonderful fruits that deserve more of the spotlight. They have been a favorite fruit of humans since at least Roman times and for good reason: They're sublime eaten fresh and ripe whether peeled or not, cored and quartered, or just enjoyed whole. They're also a versatile ingredient in both savory and sweet recipes. So, how do you do ensure you're eating a perfectly ripe pear, and how do you choose the best ones to cook with? Read on for our guide to pear perfection, as you'll find it comes in many forms!

Planning ahead is key to picking a perfect pear. The fruits are picked when mature but not ripe. It's up to you to choose a specimen that will ripen and to provide the conditions to allow it to ripen; luckily neither of these are hard to do.

How to Choose a Good Pear

Look for fruit that is free of blemishes, bruises, or cuts. The color of the fruit depends on the variety, but any pear should be firm, smooth skinned, and have a slight perfume.

variety of pears on surface
Bryan Gardner

How to Tell If a Pear Is Ripe?

Unripe pears are rock hard and do not have any aroma. They are generally green to tan in color. Underripe pears are still firm to the touch at the stem end but should have a slight perfume and have begun to color up, depending on the variety, from green to yellow to bronze. Ripe pears will yield to gentle (repeat, gentle!) pressure at the stem end. They should also have a strong perfume. The color of the fruit varies depending on variety and can be anywhere from yellow to bronze. Just beyond ripe is perfectly ripe, the pear you would eat today. They are heavy with perfume, fully colored, and dripping with sweet juice if you cut into the fruit or apply pressure with your finger. Beyond perfection comes overripe pears, they are past their best, soft, mushy, and often bruised.

How to Ripen a Pear

Once you get home with your pears, you can simply let them sit at room temperature until they're perfectly ripe. If you don't want to wait, place a pear in a brown paper bag or a bowl with a banana and cover the bowl; the ethylene gas from the banana will speed up ripening.

Remember That a Pear Doesn't Always Need to Be Ripe

If you're using the pears for cooking, underripe pears are actually what you need. They will hold their shape better whether poached, baked, or braised. If the pears you have are soft and almost mushy, don't discard them! They are best for cooking into a pear sauce.

What to Do with Ripe Pears

It's time to eat! If you have too many ripe pears all at once or are saving them for a certain meal, refrigerate ripe pears to extend their perfection for two or three days.

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