By Marge Perry
Updated March 14, 2011
Savor this quintessential holiday dessert of poached pears, flavored with orange juice and vanilla beans. Drizzle a luscious ice cream sauce on top for extra pizzazz. Recipe:Poached Pears

Pears actually don't ripen all that well on trees. (They are picked when mature, but not ripe.) You'll know a pear is ripe if it yields slightly to pressure (gentle, now) applied at the base of its stem. If you have a pear that needs ripening, you should place it in a paper sack. Once ripened to your liking, pears will keep in the fridge for several days. Just keep them out of plastic bags when storing.