How to Store Pears for Winter

fresh ripe pears on a table

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Pears may only be in season once a year, but they'll keep for many months if you properly store them. Just gather up your pears and make sure you have enough refrigerator space or a cold storage area, and follow these simple storage instructions.

Choose the Right Pear

Winter pear varieties are best suited to long-term storage. If you intend to store your pears for more than a couple of weeks, choose a winter pear such as an Anjou, Bosc, Comice, or Winter Nelis. Bartlett pears aren't a winter pear, but they can be stored for long periods, too.

Pick at the Right Time

Pick your pears when they are mature but not yet ripe. They'll continue to ripen after they've been picked. (Tip: If the pears are easy to remove from the tree, they're probably ready to be picked.)

Keep Your Pears at the Proper Temperature

Store your pears at 30 F (and at 85% to 90% humidity), or as close to it as you can get. Any colder than this, and the fruit will be damaged; any warmer, and it'll ripen faster than you want. If you have a spare refrigerator (or you have extra space in your refrigerator), this is the ideal spot to stash your fruit. Bartletts will keep at this temperature for two to three months, winter pears for three to five months. Pears actually need to spend time in cold storage to ripen properly, so give your Bartlett pears at least one to two days in the fridge and your winter pears two to six weeks, before you even think about pulling any out.

Ripen Your Pears at Room Temperature

Once the proper chill time has passed, ripen your pears by taking out as many as you need, and allowing them to sit at room temperature for several days—four to five days for Bartletts, five to seven days for Bosc and Comice, seven to 10 days for Anjou. The longer pears have been in cold storage, the faster they'll ripen once they're taken out. To speed up the ripening process, put your pears in a paper bag with a ripe apple or a banana.

Check to See if Your Pears Are Ready to Eat

Test for ripeness by pressing at the neck of the pear with your thumb. If it gives under the pressure, your pear is ripe and ready for eating. Do you have ripe pears from the store or farmers market, and you're not ready to use them yet? Toss them in the fridge, and they should keep for another three to five days.

Watch for Spoiled Pears

Inspect your pears from time to time, and discard any that show signs of deterioration or damage, so they don't spoil the rest of the pears you're storing.

Tasty Things You Can Do With Pears

Want to make something with your pears now? Try homemade pear butter, pear freezer jam, or pear sauce. All three recipes are simple and delicious.