Check the neck of your pears

Pears are picked full-sized but unripe for a reason.

How do you know when a pear is ripe? Just “Check the Neck.” Pears are ripe when the neck gives in gently to pressure from your thumb. If it yields to gentle pressure, then the pear is ripe, sweet and juicy.

There is a lot of nutrition in pears. Pears are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C and have only 100 calories. They are also sodium free, fat free, and cholesterol free. 

According to the Michigan State University Extension, MI Fresh pear bulletin, the best pears for canning are Bartlett, Moonglow and Clapp’s Favorite. Fresh Michigan pears are available mid-August through October.

Pears ripen best off the tree. That is why pears you buy out of the store, or at the farmers market, are not soft and ripe. Pears will finish ripening at home.

If you purchase ripe pears use them right away or refrigerate them to slow down any further ripening. If they are not ripe, simply leave them at room temperature to ripen with time. Put them in a fruit bowl and place them somewhere that you can look at their beauty as they ripen. If you want them to ripen more quickly put them in a paper bag or put them next to bananas in a fruit bowl, and then check them each day so they don’t get overripe.

If you are going to cut up pears a while before you are going to use them, they will probably start to turn brown. They turn brown because the cut pear is exposed to the oxygen in the air. To prevent or slow down the browning, dip them in, or brush on, a mixture of 50 percent water and 50 percent lemon juice. You can also add one teaspoon of ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C, and one gallon of water or use commercial ascorbic acid and mix it up according to label directions. Then drain the fruit when you are ready to use it.

Pears can be eaten fresh, canned, as juice, dried and frozen. However, fresh pears are not recommended for freezing. The juice and fibers of fresh pears will separate when thawing and will not provide a high quality product. That isn’t to say that pears can’t be frozen at all because they can, they just need to be heated in boiling sugar syrup before being canned. Always follow directions carefully when freezing, canning or drying your pears by using research based recipes found in updated Ball Blue Books, So Easy to Preserve, the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving and updated Extension bulletins.

Asian pears are a lower in acid than American pears and so the National Center for Home Food Preservation states that all home canned Asian Pears must be acidified before canning in a boiling water canner to make them safe from the microorganism that causes botulism. 

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