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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Pear Fruit Hard as Rocks

Q. We have a mature pear tree standing about 14' tall that produces about 100 pears each year. These pears are always rock hard when harvested regardless of how long we leave them on the tree. We have attempted ripening them indoors, in brown bags, all to no avail.

A. Do you know what kind of pear it is? There are two groups of pears; the European and Asian pears. The Asian pears are normally round or roundish and crunchy, much like a crisp apple. They are not rock hard, but they aren’t soft, either. They are “crunchy” in texture.
Most people are familiar with Bartlett pear, a European dessert pear that is picked hard but ripens and softens after harvest. All pears pictured were grown by me in the Mojave Desert.

            Most of the European pears are dessert pears, but a few are cooking pears. The dessert pears will soften after harvesting but the cooking pears do not. They stay firm, some might say “rock hard” when compared to dessert pear like a fully ripe Bartlett. Some of the European pears used fresh (aka dessert pear) are Bartlett, Comice, d’Anjou, Bosc and Seckel. The stores in the US carry a lot of Bartlett but there are some excellent other dessert pears out there to try.
Comice pear, a European dessert pear, also does well in the Mojave Desert.

            Most dessert pears are picked when still hard but after the background color of the fruit has begun to lighten. This is true of Bartlett because its flesh will have a “buttery” texture when picked before they are fully mature and allowed to ripen at room temperature for three or four days.

Sensation Red Bartlett, another dessert pear, also does well here.

            I'm thinking yours is a European type cooking pear. A popular variety is Kieffer. They don’t soften much at all when ripe because they are used for cooking and making pear sauce, compote, jams, jellies, pickling and used in stuffing. 

Kieffer pear is a European pear but it is a cooking pear.

They are called cooking pears because their flesh stays firm after cooking. They can be left on the tree longer because they stay very firm when ripe. If I am right, there is nothing you can do to soften them and you either enjoy them for their cooking attributes or replace the tree.

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