5 Pear Facts (or, Growing Alien Tree Fruit)

16 Sep

My very own pears, in my very own tree!

Okay, so we’re working through the slow, slow process of getting settled into the new house. Which is taking FOREVER and keeping me from doing the things I want to be doing (cough cough BLOGGING cough). But no matter – it’s all worth it and we’re almost all settled and cozy in our new digs. And I don’t know if I properly shared my complete excitement about the flora the previous owners left for us – namely several mature Concord grapevines, and a pear tree! The grape time has passed, but the tree is  FULL of pears! (Well, okay WAS full of pears. I may have attacked it last night.) I kept waiting and waiting for them to ripen, which they stubbornly refused to do, so I finally gave up and did some research on how the hecks to manage a pear tree.

Turns out, pears are basically alien fruit. They behave differently from almost every other fruit out there. Which is a little frustrating (I think I let them sit too long on the tree) but also really, really fascinating. Here are five interesting and strange things to know about pears.

  1. Pears are one of the only fruits (the only fruit?) that won’t ripen successfully on the tree. They MATURE on the tree, but don’t ripen. Left to their own devices, they’ll… fall off, I guess.
  2. They also have to be chilled in order to ripen! All those pears you buy at the market have already been chilled (likely during transportation to your market) which is why they get soft and sweet on the counter. But when you grow your own, you have to chill them yourself, in the fridge (or if you’re really awesome/alcoholic, in the kegerator).
  3. Pears (and other fruits) can withstand cold to 30 degrees without freezing. The high sugar content protects them from frost damage.
  4. These goofy edibles ripen from the inside out. So the way to tell if a pear is ripe is NOT to squeeze the fat bell part of the pear, but rather to push gently on the top of the pear, right next to the stem. If that’s soft, the pear is ripe enough to eat. Wait for a soft-fat-bell pear, and you may find that the core is overripe.
  5. Pears – especially too-long-on-the-tree pears – can be used to make hard cider (like Apfelwein… but with pears. Birnewein!). And regular old non-alcoholic pear cider. And also, boiled cider, which is like maple syrup made with cider instead of sap. YUM.

So, there you have it. Five awesome things to know about pears. Do y’all grow any of your own fruits? Any surprising fruit facts?

(P.S. Hi! I missed you all! It’s good to be back.)


4 Responses to “5 Pear Facts (or, Growing Alien Tree Fruit)”

  1. Stephane F 09/19/2011 at 11:35 am #

    Luckyyy! We planted an apple tree and a cherry tree in the spring, but we probably won’t get any fruit from them for a couple of years. I can’t wait!

  2. Anna Dunn 09/24/2011 at 7:38 am #

    This was our first summer in our first house, so we started with a veggie garden and kept it simple (I am a TOTAL beginner at this.). My mom, however, has three pear trees up at her house in northern Iowa. She also grows blueberry bushes, strawberries, and whatever else she thinks will be fun to eat. Good luck with your pears! There’s a REALLY GOOD caramel pear pie recipe out on the internet somewhere that my mom uses.

  3. Dangel 10/29/2011 at 4:56 am #

    Finally. My nana’s tree has been growing pears for years and they’ve always been hard. Now we know why.
    Thanks. Shame it’s too late to put it to work now, but next year we’ll actually have edible pears!

    • Amanda 10/31/2011 at 8:36 am #

      It’s so counter-intuitive, right? But the chilling works! Enjoy your pears next year!

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