Do Pears Need to be Refrigerated?

by Charlie

Pears are one of those fruits that are best when they are fresh, canned and jarred pears just don’t compare. The problem is that pears are only in season for a short period each year. The good news is that pears are a fruit that stores exceptionally well for many months if stored properly in the refrigerator. 

Do pears need to be refrigerated? No, pears do not need to be refrigerated. If you want your pears to ripen for consumption, it is recommended to leave the pears at room temperature for 4-7 days. When stored in the fridge, winter pears will last for up to five months and bartlett pears will last for up to three months.

With a few simple precautions, you will be able to enjoy fresh pears, ripe and juicy, for more of the year than many other people. You want to make sure that you are buying pears with the intention of storage, store them at the right temperature, and make sure that you don’t mix them with other products. Then we’ll cover some handling and long term storage so that you can have fresh pears all year round.

How to Properly Store Pears in the Fridge

So you know that the best long-term solution for keeping pears in cold storage, but not only do they need to be refrigerated but they need to be stored properly in the fridge. Anyone can dump a few pears in the fruit bin and hope for the best, but here are some tips to help you keep your pears tasting the best when you want them.

Buy Pears with Storage in Mind

If you know that you are going to be storing pears for the long term, you should go into your purchasing with that in mind. Most pears will do alright in cold storage, but some fare extremely well compared to others. 

If you are thinking of storing your pears for a few weeks or more, you should strongly consider a variety of winter pear, such as Nelis, Comice, Bosc, and Anjou. Bartlett pears are known for being good in long term storage as well, despite not being a winter variety. Winter pears will store for up to five months, and Bartletts will store for up to three.

Make sure that the pears that you pick are in an appropriate stage of ripeness. Since pears can often be ripened quite quickly, it is best to buy them before they have begun to ripen. You will want to pick pears that are mature, but which still have flesh that is firm, or even hard. Once they are picked they will continue to ripen, but often those harvested for commercial purposes are somewhere on the spectrum of ripeness, so take the extra time to find the firmest ones.

Don’t Store Your Pears with Other Fruits and Vegetables

Pears produce and are also sensitive to, ethylene gas. They produce this gas while they ripen, and being in higher concentrations of the gas can force faster ripening. This is why you can help some fruits ripen quicker by placing them in a paper bag because it traps the ethylene gas around the fruit and causes it to ripen faster than if kept in the open.

Keeping pears near other produce will begin to affect them by forcing them to ripen and soften, even if still in the refrigerator. If you keep pears near other ethylene sensitive fruits or vegetables, the gas the pears produce can have the same effect on the pear’s neighbors. This includes fruits like grapes, berries, peaches, melons, and vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, and asparagus.

Store Pears in the Fridge

Let’s talk about some specific storage needs for your pears. We know that they need to be cold, and they need to be away from any other ethylene producing or ethylene sensitive items. The best place is going to be somewhere that has a relatively steady temperature with high humidity and somewhat low traffic. 

If you are using your main refrigerator, your best option is generally going to be your crisper drawer. It will often be located in one of the coldest places in the refrigerator, and it will contain the humidity a bit better than open storage.

If you have a garage fridge or beer fridge that you may be able to get some real estate in, those are perfect. They don’t get opened as much as the main fridge, and can often be set lower than you’d want your main fridge set. 

Pears are best kept at 30 degrees, with about 90% humidity. It is the perfect combo for pears, any warmer, and they can start to ripen much faster than you want, and any colder and the fruit will be damaged and the taste compromised. This is why a spare fridge is perfect, 30 means slushy milk but perfect pears.

When you are ready to start ripening your pears to eat, you want them at room temperature. From cold storage, your Bartlett pears will only need 4-5 days, while your winter varieties will take 7-10 days. These timeframes will be accelerated the longer the pears were in cold storage. If you need to speed it up, drop a ripe apple in a paper bag with your pear, or a ripe banana if you’re really in a hurry.

When a pear is ripe and ready to eat, gently press the pear with your thumb, on the neck of the pear. If it gives a little the pear is ripe, if it is still too firm to dent then it may need another day or two on the counter.

Handle With Care

Be gentle with your pears. Enthusiasts know that pears are softer and more prone to damage than many other fruits. Just as with apples and peaches, however, any damage to the fruit encourages the production of more ethylene gas. This will not only make that pear ripen and possibly spoil quicker, but the same goes for all the pears that are nearby.

Protecting your fruit only goes so far when the cashier so callously drops them on the scale and bags them without concern. When you are getting ready to store them, take a few minutes to sort them based on any newfound damage. Any with damage can be sure to be segregated from those without damage, extending the storage time of all the pears overall, as well as using them in the order that they would spoil, preventing or at least lessening the number lost to spoilage.

How to Store Pears For Longer Periods

If you want to go the extra mile and freeze some pears for use 10 or even 12 months down the line, here is a basic rundown of how to get the most from your cut pears. 

For the best results, cut, peel, and core your pears first. Then you will need to give the slices a soak in a solution to stop oxidation and browning, this is made from 3 tablespoons of lemon juice in a quart of water. Soak the pears for 3-5 minutes.

Place these slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and set in the freezer. This will freeze the pears and prevent sticking. Once they have been in the freezer for around 5 hours, take them out and place them in airtight containers or freezer bags. 

Make sure that no matter what type of container you are using for the final freezer storage, you get as much air out as possible to prevent freezer burn. If using containers, fill them as much as possible without packing the pears down forcefully. If you’re using bags, try to roll them and push out as much air as you can before storing them. This will help keep the taste and texture optimal for up to a year.

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