Pears are in their prime right now. Here's how to make them taste their best.

By Stacey Ballis
December 08, 2020

We are quickly hitting prime pear season, which is a complicated time because pears are a rare fruit that actually taste better when ripened off the tree. Tree-ripened pears are often mealy and mushy, so they are picked unripe and shipped cold to prevent bruising and spoilage.

This means that most often, the pears we buy are still not in "eat today" condition. This is fine for pears we cook with, having that bit of firmness and the balancing residual acidity make these pears perfect for use in cakes, pies, tarts, and preserves or butter. But if you want pears for eating out of hand or using raw on salads or the like, you want a nicely ripened pear.

Get the Recipe: Fresh Pear Pie

So, what do you do when you have a bowlful of pear rocks? Time to help ripen them!

How to Ripen Pears

The good news is that pears ripen very effectively at room temperature over the course of 4 to 7 days, so if you don’t have a pear emergency, just leaving them out in a bowl or on a plate will do the trick eventually.

If you want them to ripen even faster, add some ripe apples or bananas to the mix. They will increase the natural amount of ethylene, the gas that helps with ripening, and all of them will ripen together.

For more speed, to ripen pears in 2 to 4 days, place the pears in a paper bag, and close the top tightly to trap the ethylene. The paper will breathe enough to prevent mold or rot but will still capture the gas to create a little ripening chamber. Add an apple or banana to the bag to speed things up even more.

If you have a lot of pears and don’t need all of them ripe at once, don’t worry: Pears ripen when kept at 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so any pears you aren’t ready for, just store in the fridge until you want to start the ripening process at room temperature. If you like eating a pear a day, for example, keep three or four at room temp ripening, and the rest in the fridge, and every day eat one and replace it with a cold one to have a good ripening cycle.