Keeping pears over the winter and beyond

Starting in September, October and sometimes even November if the climate is mild enough, pears are being harvested.

Not counting those that fall to the ground and must be quickly eaten, and those that seem to be infected with diseases, worms or fungus, there still often remains a sizeable portion of perfectly healthy pears that can be kept all winter long.

In proper storage conditions, pears will keep long enough for you to eat them until the end of winter, even the beginning of spring.

From harvest to storage, here is the procedure to follow for the best possible preservation of your pears.

Pear varieties that keep well

Although all pears can keep for several months with proper storage conditions, some varieties stand out in that they keep more easily, and a few hold well and are still palatable until spring.

Here are the pear tree cultivars that keep for a very long time since they mature very late:

  • ‘Beurre Bachelier’
  • ‘Beurre Diel’
  • ‘Beurre d’Anjou’
  • ‘Beurre d’Hardenpont’
  • ‘Colmar Nelis’
  • ‘Beurre de Nivelles’
  • ‘Doyenne du Comice’
  • ‘Doyenne d’hiver’
  • ‘Duchesse d’hiver’
  • ‘Figue d’Alencon’
  • ‘Grand Soleil’
  • ‘Jules d’Airoles’
  • ‘Leon Gregoire’
  • ‘Orpheline d’Enghien’
  • ‘Passe-Colmar’
  • ‘Royale d’hiver’
  • ‘Saint-Germain d’hiver’
  • ‘Saint-Mathieu’
  • ‘Tardive de Toulouse’
  • ‘Triomphe de Jodoigne’
  • ‘Zephirin Gregoire’

There are still many more, since the number of pear varieties is incredible!

Harvesting the pears

This is an important step because it has a direct impact on how long pears keep.

No point in picking up fallen pears, they are very fragile and will only keep for a few days. You must eat them quickly or prepare culinary wonders such as pear liquor, Belle Helene pear dessert, pear yogurt cake, cinnamon cracker mousse with fried pears, or pear compote.

You must collect the pears directly from the tree, and they must be carefully chosen and picked in dry weather.

  • Choosing pears that are neither too green nor too ripe
  • Lifting the pear up ever so slightly, rotate it by a quarter turn.
  • If the pear detaches from the tree, it is ready to harvest.
  • Place it carefully in the basket to avoid wounding it.

Selecting the pears that will keep best

To ensure that each pear is pristine and doesn’t bear any trace of disease or fungus, the first step is to segregate the “1st class” pears.

  • Spread the pears out, ensuring that they don’t touch to avoid spread of any possible later contamination.
  • Observe the pears for about a week.
  • Remove pears that show signs of weakness (darkening, coloring, browning, spots, etc…).
  • Segregate the most beautiful pears, those that look healthiest.

Storing and keeping pears for the winter

In proper storage conditions, you’ll be able to keep your pears past Christmas, even until spring.

  • Spread the pears out in crates or on shelves, without them touching each other.
  • Ensure that air circulates well around the pears.
  • Store the crates in the dark, away from moisture and ideally at a temperature of around 50°F (10°C).
  • Inspect your pears regularly to quickly remove those that deteriorate first.

With this bit of advice, you should be able to keep your pears for many a long month, and thus savor fresh fruits in winter.