When do I pick pears?

donnaz5(Z5 NY)September 19, 2008

I don't know the variety that I have, but it is loaded with pears. Someone told me that pears will never ripen on the tree..that you have to pick them, then they ripen. Is that right? I have been waiting for them to ripen on the tree. They are as hard as rocks, but mildly sweet if you eat one.

If I need to pick them now, how will I know when the time is right? Thank you...Donna

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Cradle a pear in your hand, then gently lift it upward.

It's ready if it easily breaks free.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 11:19PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

we let those bombs.. fall to the ground ... on grass ...

then put them on a picnic table in the shade..

and in a month or two.. they were ready to eat ...

unless you have good teeth.. and like your pear to have the mouth feel of an apple ...

the minimally damaged ones.. actually ripen faster ....and it sounds like you will have enough, regardless of damage ...

clean and cut into 1/2 inch squares.. and throw them in a pan.. a little butter .... and cook until mushy .. and put over pancakes .. also throw in some apples... and near the end.. some banana ..... YOU REALLY SHOULDNT NEED SUGAR .... you can do it in the microwave.. for mush.. but the little caramelization from the pan is better ...

good eating.. ken

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 12:56PM
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donnaz5(Z5 NY)

Thank you both. Love the recipe..I will try it. Will frost or a freeze hurt them? We're getting near that time..should I pick them all if we have a freeze coming? Donna

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 6:02PM
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It depends upon your pear - if they're Asian varieties, then jean's method is good - if you lift and the stem detaches from the branch, they're ready.
But, if it's a European pear variety, they're best picked from the tree while still firm - at most, barely yielding to firm finger pressure at the stem end - then, refrigerated for 20-60 days(varies, depending upon variety) before pulling them out, a few at a time, to allow them to ripen for a few days at room temperature.
With most European pears, if you leave them to 'ripen on the tree', what you get is pears 'rotting on the tree'.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 8:58PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It was said: "...if they're Asian varieties, then jean's method is good ...But, if it's a European pear variety, they're best picked from the tree while still firm"

Well, we picked a friend's Bartlett's with the lift-and-release method just 2 weeks ago. Worked fine.

But after you harvest them, and before you eat the Europeans, they should sit on the counter until they color up.

In other words, even though they're very firm and green when picked, they are mature. Thus, they will ripen within weeks.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 10:32PM
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Proper picking & ripening times will vary considerably for each individual Euro pear variety - and one's own preference for taste/consistency will also come into play. I've got close to 30 different varieties and every one is different.
Bartlett may work well for jean in Portland - but it's a non-starter here in the hot, humid Southeast; fireblight will eat its shorts in no time - and the lift-and-release method may work well for her there, but if I waited for my Europeans to lift & separate, they'd be way too mushy for my taste, and in fact, would probably be brown and gooey inside.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 10:06AM
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Here's an archived note I've saved for years on ripening pears from one of my mentors who operated one of the premier fruit tree nurseries & orchards in the eastern US for nearly 30 years:
"Most all European pears (exception is the new Green Jade), require post picking chill to properly mature. Or, when fruit exhibit slight color changes, begin to test pressure (using your thumb) near the stem. When there is a slight "give", pick all the fruit, store at or near 35 degrees for 7 or more days. Then you can remove them as needed, allow them to sit at room temps for 2-4 days which allows them to ripen to peak flavor.
Years ago, I got a letter from an older NAFEX fellow who told me that European types were very difficult to ripen due to varietal quirks or requirements in post harvest handling. He said "E*, if you live long enough to learn how to properly ripen 10 varieties, you'll be lucky".
I'm still working on it!!!

Additionally, here's a couple of posts from an ongoing current discussion on pear ripening on the NAFEX e-list:
JF(in MN) wrote:
Following someone's post about picking pears before they get tree ripened and putting them in cold storage, I picked my Ure Pears when they first began changing color. Apparently I missed some and they fell off the tree two weeks later. Wishing to learn how tree-ripening affected stone cell production, I bit into several finding they are the best tasting pears I have ever eaten. There was an acceptable, tiny bit of grit in the peel but the flesh was wonderful. Henceforth I'll let them ripen on the tree.

KM(in MI) replied:
Interesting topic. I have several pear trees and note some are simply marvelous when tree ripened. I pull some at the conventional point and tree ripen some to get the best of both worlds.
Harvest Queen is about the finest tasting pear I have had when tree ripe...simply amazing. When given conventional treatment it is still a darn good pear. I have yet to get one that rotted from the inside out when tree ripened.
Harrow Sweet is also excellent tree ripe. However some do rot from the inside out. I can't figure out why that happens as it is definitely hit or miss. Figure a 15% loss if you tree ripen.
Potomac is a mixed bag, it tends to rot from the inside out about 30% of the time - but and check this out, it can and will ferment in the skin. So if you want to get plastered this might be a candidate.
Magness and Warren both ripen on the tree with limited rot, but I cannot say there is much of an improvement in taste over conventional methods.
Atlantic Queen....this is awesome tree ripe.
I think this is all I tried the tree ripening thing on.

Your mileage may vary - as mine here in the hot humid South is at least partially different from jean's in the PNW - but, what the heck, try some both ways!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 5:30PM
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