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How To Tell If A Pear Is Ripe

Pears are incredibly delicious and nutritious fruits, but understanding when they’re at their peak can be a bit tricky.

This is due to their unique ripening process. Unlike most fruits, pears mature on the tree but ripen best off the tree.

The art of determining a pear’s ripeness, therefore, can be considered somewhat of a sweet science. To understand the subtle signs of how to tell if a pear is ripe.

Five ripe pears on a dark plate with a paring knife lying next to them.

To determine if a pear is ripe, perform the “neck test” by applying gentle pressure near the stem. If it yields slightly, it’s ripe. Visual cues, such as color changes (varies by variety), and a sweet aroma can also indicate ripeness.

Pears Ripening Process

A pear ripens from the inside out, so by the time it feels soft to the touch outside, it may already be overripe inside.

Most pear varieties are harvested when they are still firm but have reached their full size and not their full ripeness.

This is done to prevent them from becoming mealy, which happens when they are left to ripen on the tree.

Once harvested, pears ripen at room temperature. They pass through several stages: immature, mature but not ripe, ripe, and overripe.

During this process, the fruit’s starches convert to sugars, develop its flavor and aroma, and become juicier.

How to Tell If a Pear is Ripe


The most reliable method for checking pear ripeness is the “neck test.” To perform this test, apply gentle pressure to the neck, or stem end, of the pear with your thumb.

If it yields slightly, it’s ripe. If it’s hard, it’s not ripe yet.

Smell and Color

Apart from the neck test, there are other indicators of ripeness. A ripe pear typically has a fragrant aroma and may change color, though the color change varies between varieties.

Some pears brighten in color, while others may darken or develop a yellowish tinge.

Feel and Taste

A ripe pear should be firm but not hard. It should give slightly under pressure, especially near the stem. The skin should be free from deep blemishes and cuts. As for the taste, it should be sweet and juicy, not crunchy or sour.

For information on how to identify spoiled pears, don’t miss our post on spotting signs of spoilage, such as a mushy texture, discoloration, and unpleasant odors.

Here is a handy table to help you identify these signs based on popular pear varieties:

Pear VarietyVisual IndicatorOlfactory Indicator
BartlettTurns from green to yellowStrong, sweet aroma
AnjouStays green, but might get a slight yellow blushMild, sweet aroma
BoscStays brown, but might get a slightly darker shadeSweet, spicy aroma
ComiceStays green, but might get a slight yellow blushRich, sweet aroma

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Tell If a

Yes, to speed up the ripening process, place the pears in a paper bag with a ripe apple or banana. The ethylene gas emitted by these fruits will encourage the pears to ripen more quickly.

Once ripe, pears should be stored in the refrigerator to prolong their freshness. Placing them in a plastic bag will prevent them from absorbing other food odors.

While all pears ripen off the tree, the visual indicators of ripeness can vary between varieties. For example, Bartlett pears turn yellow when ripe, while Anjou pears stay green.


Choosing a ripe pear is an essential skill for any fruit lover. Expand your knowledge with our ultimate guide to fruit ripeness, featuring tips on how to select the freshest fruits from the market.

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