by National Gardening Association Editors
Pears should be harvested when they are mature, but still hard, and ripened off the tree for the best eating and canning quality. If you wait until the pears get ripe on the tree they'll be mushy inside within a day or two. The early varieties will take a few days to a week to ripen after harvest; later ripening varieties often require several weeks or more to reach best quality. Mature pears will be full size and the color of many varieties at this stage turns from green to light yellow. Generally, if you lift the fruit up it should break away easily from the stem. (The 'Bartlett' pear will need a slight twist to loosen it.) Pears grow larger and get softer all through the picking period.
If you're going to keep some pears in cool storage for eating a month or two in the future, pick them when they are full size but still quite hard. Even though the skin is firm, handle them gently; they bruise easily. Pears that you will eat right away can be harvested later when the skin is a bit softer. Many varieties can be kept for a few weeks in a cool, dark place. For longer storage, pears need refrigeration at 32° F to 40° F. Bring them out to room temperature for a week or so before eating them.
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