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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.

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  • maimeyrocky

    grammylight told me that is how one should eat a mango!!!

  • Chloe Rowles

    I love it! I learned something new…..I did NOT know that pears don’t ripen on the tree. Sooo, it’s OK to buy those hard pears in the grocery stores and use this method to ripen. I’ve got to try that. Thanks.

    Oh yeah, I like the banana trick, too.

  • Carol


  • Great info! I’ve also learned that a pear is one of the only fruits that doesn’t have to be ripe to cook with it. So all the pear bread, pear muffins, and my favorite — fresh pear pie — the pears can be still hard when you use them.

  • Clong

    I’ve heard that apples are the best fruits to use as ripening partners because they give off the most gas. What say you? 🙂

  • I passed by a display of pears at W*mart today. They smelled delicious (and ripe!)

  • Bartlett pears turn yellow when ripe. I just bought 144 pounds of pears to can. I bought 4 boxes of them, and on the box it tells you not only that they are yellow-skinned when ripe, but that they ripen best at 65º to 72º. I keep mine in my pantry, which is kept at 65º. When they are yellow, they are easily blanched and canned. I’m not in a hurry to have my ripen, as I also bought 324lbs of peaches the same day I bough the pears. I’m finishing up canning the peaches, and then I’m working on the pears.

  • Pingback: Real Self Reliance » The Self Reliant Digest #14()

  • Love to hear someone who understands the power of that special gas. Fresh fruit is not! allowed in my flower cooler! The fruit just doesn’t know how to keep to itself and leave my flowers alone. My pristine petals become scarlet scofflaws in no time at all.

  • Dear Damsel, I have a pear tree–loaded with pears. They are small-I didn’t thin the tree, so there are many. And they are sooo good to eat. Perhaps if one of your readers lives in Davis County, they would like to contact me at [email protected] if they would like them.

  • I ripen bananas and avocados for grocery chains do you think there is a niche whereby I would store pears and ripen them to order??For example, on determined day I could deliver a certain (requested) pressure to a grocery store’s distribution center??

    Many thanks!


  • Susie

    Wow, I have lived with a pear tree for 6 years and never enjoyed any pears from it as sooo hard. This year I know what to do and will pick the lot now. Thanks can't wait to try this, have a banana at the ready. Unfortunately we move next month so this is my only chance left to try this trees bounty. : )

  • Melida

    Woman!!! I found this post!!! yea. Thanks for the tip at b-ball, I came home and plucked them all from the tree. Now I found this I will take them out of the plastic bag and put them in a paper bag. You rock. I am glad I said something or that someone said something that helped prompt you to tell me about pears.

    • the_damsel

      See ya tomorrow, chick-fil-a.

  • Brenda

    Thanks for the info.  Have a tree loaded with pears and just didn’t know that they need to ripen  OFF the tree.

  • Burny636

    I’ve read that u have to cool the pears after picking them for a couple of days, then add the gassious fruits to ripen in the same way as you’ve explained?

  • Mimi

    I  had no clue about ripening a pear! I like my boys to have different fruit, so knowing I can bring home the hard ones, I’ll do so! They won’t be eaten in the tub!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Mimi! Hope the boys like them.

  • As usual, you’ve taught me something I had no clue about before 🙂 Thanks!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Charise!

  • Amy Liles

    Pears may be my favorite fruit.  Well, it’s a tie between pears and cherries.  And yet, I had no idea they needed a ripening nudge.  You are a wealth of knowledge.  

  • Pears are great! They are also very low in salicylates, a natural preservative, but to which some people are very sensitive. You really can’t go wrong with a pear but I had the odd pear on my windowsill for three weeks before being ripe so I appreciate the tip for checking for ripeness. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Interesting about the salicylates! I didn’t know that. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Interesting.  For some reason I’ve never been into pears…perhaps I’ve just never had a truly ripe one.  Thanks for the tip!

    • Anonymous

      I feel the same way…why eat a pear when you could have a peach?

  • Kristl Story

    I love pears, but I’ve never had the patience to let them ripen…thanks for the tip!  

  • Anonymous

    I LOVE pears! I had no idea that they HAD to be picked before they were ripe! I have had one of those mealy mushy pears – that’s simply NO FUN! Oh how I wish I had a pear tree… An investment for another season, I think 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Wouldn’t it be fun to have a pear, a peach, a nectarine, and an apple tree? Cherries too?

  • Riley

     what are the variety of pear in the photos? I think they’re the same ones that my parents have in their orchard. We live in Northwestern Canada and have never been able to ripen them properly. I’m going to stick a banana in the bag this time! Hopefully dad gets some pears to make his perry 😉

    • Anonymous

      I’m sorry, I’m horrible at knowing what variety is what…this tree is in my son’s yard, and it’s about 50 years old. Let me know if the banana works!

  • Donna Kennedy

    How do I keep the birds from getting to my fruit trees?

    • Anonymous


      I’m sorry, I don’t know too much about keeping birds away. They don’t seem to like my apples, so I haven’t had to worry about it. My husband says when he was a kid growing up at an orange orchard, he was paid a quarter for each starling he shot with his BB gun, and he spent hours doing it!
      errr. That’s probably not the solution you wanted to hear, but I suppose it’s sort of “old school.”
      Wish I were more help.
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • letlarrydoit

    It has always been my contention that fruit, ALL fruit, comes out of a can and goes exclusively on cereal. Guess I’ll have to make some exceptions, not that I have a bumper crop of pears this year.

    • thedamselindisdress


      Fruit also comes from cereal itself, as in Froot Loops.

      Margot (The Damsel)

  • Martie

    I have moved to a place that has two pear trees in the front yard and so glad to find out how to ripen them. if i leave them on the trees the deer eat them.

  • Apple Jack

    The ripening gas refered to in some of these comments is Ethylene. It is heavier than air, so you don’t need to cover fruit if it is placed in a bowl. Ethylene gas is used by every supermarket chain that sells bananas. Bananas are picked green in the tropics. When they reach the supermarket warehouse they are placed in an ethylene gas chamber to start the ripening process. The longer they are gassed, the faster the ripening, and the shorter the shelf life. You may have wondered why bananas from one store turn black faster than from another store chain.
    Tomatoes ripen the same way. Put one red tomatoe in a bowl with 10 green tomatoes and in a few days you will have 11 red tomatoes. Apples and tomatoes must have a little color before they start giving off ethylene. If your pears have reached the point of maturity where the color starts to change, they are giving off their own ethylene. They will ripen in a bowl, with or without a banana.

    • thedamselindisdress

      Excellent info! Thank you.

      Margot (The Damsel)

  • tuesdaysgone

    What kind of pears do you have? We have 6 Pear Trees… they have ALL WAYS ripened on the tree. Our Pear Trees are usually Early October even late October getting ripe. And when they do ripen they are the best pears you will eat. We have people that want to pay us for the seeds because they think they the best they have ever eaten, although we don’t charge anyone.

    All of these Trees were on this Farm when we moved to it 30 years ago.. My wife, raised on this farm, says they were there when she was a little girl. In the last 5 years, we have started and planted another 14 of them, and they are getting up to good size.

    The pears at the end of August – early September were still very small, and in the last month have gotten much bigger. If you tried the trick above.. they would not be of any size when you pulled them that green.

    • thedamselindisdress

      Yum! I actually don’t have pear trees of my own. Your pears sound like the best pears ever and absolutely the best way to ripen and eat them. Lucky you!
      Margot (The Damsel)