How to pick a perfectly ripe pear

Bartlett, California’s favorite pear, goes from green to yellow when fully ripe.
Bartlett, California’s favorite pear, goes from green to yellow when fully ripe. California Pear Advisory Board

Nutrition: Pears are full of natural sugar and dietary fiber. One cup of pear slices contains 81 calories, about the same as one small pear. That also represents 4 grams of dietary fiber, more than two slices of whole wheat bread. Pears are considered a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and copper. Pear skin is very high in anti-oxidants (as well as lots more fiber).

Selection: Choose firm pears with no major blemishes, dents or bruises. After picking (and often cold storage), pears ripen at room temperature.

Here’s how to pick out a perfectly ripe pear, by variety:

▪ Bartlett is the most popular California pear and the sweetest. When green, it’s firm and crunchy. Fully yellow, it’s sweet and juicy.

▪ Sunsprite, nicknamed “baby Bartlett” because of its similar shape, stays green but has a yellow tinge when ripe.

▪ Bosc, a popular dessert pear, is always brown; when ripe, the stem starts to shrivel.

▪ Forelle, a petite sweet pear, starts green and turns yellow as it ripens with flecks of bright red.

▪ With a red blush, Comice stays yellow-green throughout its ripening process; it softens around the stem when it’s ready to eat.

▪ Red pear looks like a crimson-colored Bartlett; it goes from firm and crunchy to sweet and juicy, with a little give to the fruit.

▪ Often with a red blush, golden Seckel maintains the same color, firm or ripe; when ready, it softens at the stem.

▪ Anjou pears, which may be green or red, also stay the same color. Gently press your thumb next to the stem; if it gives a little, it’s ready to eat.

Storage: Once you get your pears home, keep them on the kitchen counter to ripen. It usually takes five to seven days. If you’re in a hurry, put the pears in a paper bag with a banana or apple; the pears will ripen in one to two days.

Firm pears will keep in the refrigerator crisper drawer for several weeks. Before use, let them ripen on the counter at room temperature. Once fully ripe, pears may be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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