The Q&A Archives: Harvesting Pears

Question: When should I harvest Sekel pears? Do they ripen on the tree or shoul I pick while they're still hard?

Answer: One good reason to grow your own fruit is having tree-ripened fruit. Deciding when to harvest your fruit is not always easy. Harvest dates vary from year to year because of bloom time and weather.

Fruit maturity and ripeness are not the same thing. A mature fruit has reached a stage of development that will allow it to ripen. A ripe fruit is in maximum edible quality. Some types of mature fruit will ripen off the tree and other types will not.

Pears should not be allowed to ripen on the tree. If the fruit are left on the tree to ripen, stone cells develop in the fruit giving the pear a gritty texture. Tree-ripened fruit will also be poorly flavored. Harvest pears when the color of the fruit changes from a deep green to yellow green. The fruit will still be firm, not soft, at harvest.

Pears should be ripened indoors at a temperature of 60 to 70?F. The ripening process should take 7 to 10 days. To hasten ripening, place pears in a tightly sealed plastic bag. The fruit give off ethylene gas which accumulates in the bag and promotes ripening.

To keep the pears for a longer period of time, refrigerate the unripened pears at a temperature of 30 to 35?F. Pears may be stored for approximately 1 to 3 months. Remove stored fruit about 1 week prior to use.

Handle the fruit gently when harvesting. Place soft fruit into shallow containers to minimize bruising. Bruising reduces both fruit quality and storage life. Most fruits are highly perishable, so plan to use or process the fruit promptly. Proper storage extends the usable life of the fruit.

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