In my corner of the world, this year has been a good year for pears. I have only two pear trees in my small orchard but they are among my personal favorites. The trees are fairly young trees and were planted within the last 7 years or so.
One tree is a red Anjou and the other is a Bartlett (sometimes known as a Williams’s pear). The red Anjou tree is still immature and has only begun to set fruit within the last 2 years. The Bartlett tree matured more quickly and has been producing fruit dependably for the last 3 or 4 years. Both trees were set back by heavy deer damage when they were 1 year whips and 2 year olds. After we finally put a deer proof fence around the orchard they grew much better.
This year the Bartlett tree was so loaded with pears that the top leader limb of the tree snapped from the weight of fruit. I regret that I wasn’t paying enough attention to the pear trees and should have thinned some of the fruit off the Bartlett tree in June to help relieve the weight. No permanent damage was done to the tree, but next spring special care will be taken when pruning it.
Pears unlike apples are best picked while they are still slightly immature. The finest quality pears for fresh eating or for home canning are pears that are ripen off the tree.
A pear that is allowed to ripen on a tree often has a mealy texture and a soft or mushy core. That’s because pears tend to ripen from the inside out. Often when a pear looks soft, ripe and ready on the tree, the interior is usually on its way to rotten.
A pear is ready to be picked when it will snap away from the tree while being lifted up towards the sky.
To ripen fresh picked pears, place them in a cool dark location like a cellar.
If you don’t have a root cellar and only need to ripen a few pears, place the pears in a brown paper bag with a ripe apple or banana. The ripening apple or banana gives off ethylene gas which will stimulate the ripening of the pears. Pears are ready for canning and for fresh eating when the flesh around the stem area gives slightly under firm pressure.