It’s strange to think we need to be taught how to ripen pears. Don’t plants do this sort of thing on their own, without busybody humans getting into their business?
The thing is, pears are one of the only fruits that don’t ripen on the tree/vine. A tree-ripened pear is mealy and mushy. So pears are best picked green. Many folks have come to believe that pears are picked green in order to truck here and there around the country without bruising them. That’s true for many fruits but not so for pears. You gotta pick them mature but green.
So how can you tell if they are mature? Walk up to a suspect pear and tip it so it’s horizontal. If it’s ready, it should detach from the tree. Those pears on the ground might be perfectly fine to use, too, if they’re still hard.
The pears in this picture are all “green,” even the one on top, which got a “suntan” so it has a rosy spot. Despite this the pears are all pretty darn hard.
Fruit produces a natural ethylene gas, which causes it to ripen. The riper it gets, the more gas it gives off, which will cause the other fruit around it to ripen too. So to ripen pears faster, you should enclose them so this gas will be trapped around the fruit. A paper grocery sack works. (Don’t use plastic.) The Damsel is ashamed to admit there wasn’t a SINGLE PAPER BAG in the cottage so she put them in a basket and put a cloth over the top.
If you want to give it a little nudge in the ripe direction, put a banana in with the pears. Bananas give off a ton of that special gas. Ahem.
So now they’ve been in the gas bag a day or two. How do you tell if they are ripe? After all, they’ll still look pretty much the same as ever. Just gently press with a finger near the stem, on the pear’s “shoulder.” A ripe pear will give a little.
They say the best way to eat a ripe pear is naked in the bathtub, so the juice can drip down your chin with abandon. If you try this, the Damsel would prefer not to hear about it.