The Exploratorium is more than a museum. Explore our online resources for learning at home.

The Accidental Scientist: Science of Cooking
Candy Bread Eggs Pickles Meat Seasoning
Ask the Inquisitive Cooks    

"How can I tell if a pear is ripe and ready to eat?"

Dear Anne and Sue,

I’ve just bitten into a pear that looks perfect on the outside, but the inside is too ripe and mushy. Now I’m a little ticked because I’ve wasted a good pear. This has happened before. How can I tell when a pear is ready to eat?



Still have more questions? You'll find more answers in our archived monthly feature articles by the Inquisitive Cooks.

(Meet the Inquisitive Cooks)

Dear Don,

Pears ripen from the inside out, so you can’t judge their ripeness by looking at the skin. To test if a pear is ripe, apply gentle pressure near the stem end. If it gives slightly, it’s most likely ready to be eaten.

Pears are one of the few fruits that don’t ripen successfully on the tree. They’re picked when they have reached full size, but before the onset of ripening. If they’re left on the tree to ripen, they become quite mealy and unpleasant in texture.
The pear’s unusual ripening process also has its advantages, however. It offers you the opportunity to ripen pears as needed. A couple of days before you plan to eat them, put the pears in a brown paper bag. The bag will capture the ethylene, a gas that most ripening fruits give off. Ethylene also affects changes in color and flavor, converts starch to sugar, and causes the fruit to soften. After a couple of days in the bag, the pears should be just right. Once pears are ripe, they have a relatively short shelf life, so eat them right away or refrigerate them and eat them within a day or two.

Many pears are wonderful eaten fresh, but if you don’t want to wait for them to ripen completely, try baking them in desserts, such as a free-form galette or a gratin topped with a mixture of breadcrumbs, ginger, marmalade, and sugar.

Pears are becoming increasingly popular fall and winter fruits, and there are now many different varieties found in good markets. Enjoy uncovering their potential!

Anne & Sue




- - - Science of Cooking - - - Webcasts - - - Ask The Inquisitive Cooks - - - Share & Discuss - - -


© Exploratorium | Use Policy | Privacy Policy