How to Store Pears So They Don't Get Mealy
A lot of folks don't like pears because they're too mealy—but more often that not, that gritty, unpleasant texture is a result of incorrect storage and improper handling rather than a problem with the fruit itself. If you want to avoid biting into a piece of fruit that's soft and mushy with the texture of sand, you should learn how to store pears properly. And really, storing pears correctly couldn't be more simple.
The first step is to pick the right pear. You want a piece of fruit that's unbruised and unblemished—and still a little firm. That's because higher quality pears are picked when fully mature but still hard; they actually ripen best when off of the tree, explains Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. If you pick a slightly underripe pear, you'll be able to make sure it ripens properly.
So how do you ripen pears without letting them gritty? Keep them at room temperature, and give them time. As McGee explains, pears "will also develop a mealy core if excessively warmed after cold storage." You also want to make sure the pears are in a well-ventilated area, like in a fruit bowl on your counter. That's because, "Pears are sensitive to carbon dioxide, so they shouldn’t be enclosed in plastic bags at any stage," writes McGee. You can, however, put a pear in a paper bag for a day if you want to speed up the ripening process. That way, the ethylene gas, a hormone that helps fruit ripen, stays in but carbon dioxide can get out.
Color isn't usually a great way to tell if a pear is ripe, because most pears don't change color. According to the Pear Bureau Northwest, a nonprofit marketing organization promoting pear farmers in Washington and Oregon, the best way to tell if a pear is ripe is to apply pressure to the neck of the fruit, near the stem. "If it yields to pressure, it’s ripe. Easy, isn’t it?"
Once the pear is fully ripe, you should eat that pear sooner rather than later, ideally within a couple of days. As with apples, be sure to remove any overripe or rotting pears from your fruit bowl. Otherwise, those rotten pears will spoil the rest of the fruit. But when those pears are perfectly ripe, you'll know. They'll be soft and juicy with that distinct pear odor—and if you stored them correctly, they won't be mealy at all.