Don’t be fooled, just because temperatures drop during the winter months does not mean you can’t find fresh fruits and veggies. Among those that are in season, you will find NW-grown pears. In fact, the USDA annually recognizes December as National Pear Month. Whether you’re looking for Bosc, Anjou, Comice or anything in between, your local supermarket should have a wide variety in stock.
Pear harvest in Washington and Oregon begins in August with Bartletts and continues through September and October with winter varieties. Pears are harvested when the fruit is fully mature, but not yet ripe. This keeps the fruit’s flavor at a peak.
Pickers carefully harvest every pear by hand, and place them into special orchard bins to prevent bruising. Once filled, the orchard bins are delivered to the packing houses and immediately cooled. After they have reached the proper reduced core temperature, they are hand-packed into 40 pound boxes to be delivered to stores world-wide.
Today, the U.S. is the third largest pear producing country in the world.
Pears are a unique fruit that ripen best off the tree. Because they are harvested when they are mature but unripe, you will likely find firm fruit at your local supermarket. In order to allow them to ripen, leave them at room temperature (kitchen counter or dining room table). If you need them immediately, placing them in a paper bag will help to ripen faster. Be sure to check them daily so they don’t get overripe Bartlett pears change from green to yellow as they ripen. Non-Bartlett pears (Anjou, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Seckel and Forelle) do not dramatically change color as they ripen. The Check the Neck™ test is the best method for checking for ripeness. To do this, gently press near the stem with your thumb. When it gives to gentle pressure it is ripe, juicy, and ready to eat.
Once they are ripened, pears will generally keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Unripe fruit can generally be kept for a week or more, however, pears will not ripen properly inside the fridge.
- There are currently more than 1,600 pear growers in Oregon and Washington
- Pears are Oregon’s number one tree fruit crop, its #9 agricultural commodity, and Oregon’s Official State Fruit
- Oregon’s total pear production ranks 3rd overall in the United States and 2nd in terms of fresh pear production
- Washington’s fresh pear production is the largest in the United States
- In Washington State, pears are the third most valuable tree fruit crop behind apples and sweet cherries, and the tenth most valuable agricultural commodity overall
- Combined annual fresh pear (not canned) harvest for Washington and Oregon currently averages over 582,000 tons
- Washington and Oregon export about 35% of their fresh pear crop to more than 50 countries around the world.
- About a quarter of the overall pear crop is canned (not represented by USA Pears/Pear Bureau Northwest). Most canning pears are Bartletts, with 63% of this variety being used for canning and processing into juices, etc.
For more information on Northwest Pears, visit usapears.org.