Step away from the fridge!

Pears are tricky. They’re usually not ripe when you purchase them from the grocery store or farmers’ market, so they require a little patience. Plus, you can’t necessarily tell when they’re ripe just by looking at them. Here’s everything you need to know about ripening and storing pears:

When Are Pears In Season?

Pear on tree Getty 9/3/20
Credit: mrs/Getty Images

mrs/Getty Images

Most pears in the U.S. come from western states like California and Oregon. You can find pears in grocery stores nationwide year-round, but peak season is August through October.

How Long Do Pears Last?

Pear tout Getty 9/3/20
Credit: anilakkus/Getty Images

anilakkus/Getty Images

It depends on when they were picked. Unlike many fruits, pears don’t ripen on the tree. Growers pick the fruit when it’s mature and then leave it at room temperature until it’s at peak ripeness. This can take one to five days, depending on what measures you take to speed or slow ripening.

Once the pear is ripe, the window is relatively short. Plan to eat ripe pears within a few days.

How to Ripen Pears

Pears in bag Getty 9/3/20
Credit: Miguel Guasch Fuxa/Getty Images

Miguel Guasch Fuxa/Getty Images

Pears naturally release ethylene gas as they ripen. This hormone actually speeds ripening along, which can act to your favor or your detriment.

You can expedite this process by placing the pear in a brown paper bag, trapping the gas near the fruit.

To really speed up ripening, store pears with other ethylene-producing fruits (like bananas or avocados). You can do this in a fruit bowl or in a paper bag, depending on when you need the pears.

Of course, if you want your pears to last more than a few days, allow them to ripen naturally at room temperature.

Tip: Don’t store unripe pears in the fridge. Cool temperatures slow the ripening process.

How to Tell When a Pear Is Ripe

Pear in hand Getty 9/3/20
Credit: WIN-Initiative/Getty Images

WIN-Initiative/Getty Images

Pears ripen from the inside out, so don’t bite into an outwardly perfect pear until you’ve performed a simple test.

According to USA Pears, the best way to check a pear’s ripeness is to apply gentle pressure to the neck (the narrow part closest to the stem) with your thumb. If it yields slightly, it’s ripe and ready to eat. If it’s rock solid, it probably needs more time.

If your pear is squishy, bruised, blemished, or soft and brown on the inside, don’t eat it. It’s past its prime.

How to Store Ripe Pears

Pears outside Getty 9/3/20
Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

Westend61/Getty Images

Unripe pears should never see the inside of a fridge, but ripe pears are a different story. Once pears are fully ripe, refrigeration can keep them fresh for a week or so.