Why is a blog about your small kitchen garden talking about harvesting pears? Pears grow on trees, so how can they qualify for a small kitchen garden? Well… when it comes to home-grown fruit, you have to stretch some rules: if you want home-grown pears, the smallest thing you can grow to get them is a tree. For many of us, there’s an even simpler excuse: we moved to houses that had pear trees growing in the yard, and it seems a shame to let the fruit go to waste.
OK, but have you bitten into one of those pears, picked fresh-ripe from your tree? Did it make you wonder what’s wrong with the tree? Did you think, perhaps, that you got stuck with an inferior plant?
The hard truth is actually good news: picking a ripe pear and biting into it can be really disappointing. A pear that ripens on the tree often develops unevenly: there may be hard spots among the soft. As well, a tree-ripened pear may be grainy—as if there is sand sprinkled through it.
Here’s the good part: you can get terrific fruit from your pear tree.
Getting perfect pears
When your pears start to look big enough to eat, pay enough attention to notice when one falls off the tree. This usually happens before the pears are ripe. At this point, pick all of them. Stack the newly-picked, still green pears in a refrigerator where they can stay for a month or so without interfering with your life. Your mission is to keep the pears at about 40 degrees.
After four or more weeks, take several pears out of the refrigerator and leave them at room temperature for two or three days—or until they’re ripe. As you consume the first set of pears, remove several more from cold-storage, and set them to ripen at room temperature. When you bite into a pear harvested and stored this way, you’ll gain considerable appreciation for that pear tree in your yard.