Pears are one of my favorite fruits. I love them in home baked goods. I like them paired with cinnamon and spice. I enjoy them preserved in honey syrup. And I particularly savor them fresh.
Because I enjoy pears so much, they were one of the first fruits I learned to keep in cold storage. If you have a cool place to keep them, pears will last for months, provided you take the proper steps beforehand, of course! Let me walk you through the process so that you can also have fresh pears on hand throughout the winter season.
How to Preserve Pears in Cold Storage
Pears, apples and quince all need similar preparations and storage conditions if they are going to be keep for more than a few months. Just follow my guidelines and you’ll be eating pretty pears all winter long!
Guideline 1: Store Fruit in a Cool Place
Before you harvest fruit for cold storage, you need to have the proper setup! Cold temperatures are the key to long-term storage. Wherever you keep your pears, temperatures should fall in the 35F-45F (2C-7C) range. You can make use of an extra refrigerator, a basement cold room, root cellar or an outdoor shed that stays above freezing!
If your fruit is too warm, it’ll break down faster. And if it freezes? It’ll be ruined unless you process it immediately. Everything depends on the proper setup!
Guideline 2: Choose Winter Keepers
When you want to store pears long term, it’s important to know your varieties. Some pears ripen early in summer and won’t last long, regardless of storage conditions.
Other varieties don’t fully ripen on the tree and hang on until late fall. These are usually your winter storage pears, known as ‘winter pears.’ You can find a list of storage types here.
Guideline 3: Use Proper Harvesting Techniques
When you’re ready to harvest winter pears, there are two things you should do that will help prolong the life of your fruit. The first? Handle your pears gently. Hand picking is the name of the game! Bruised fruit leads to quick decay, so don’t ever put windfall pears into cold storage.
The other thing you should do is harvest pears with the stem attached! Like bruising, open flesh will cause the fruit to decay much, much faster.
Yes, you’ll be climbing up and down your ladder all day! But if you’re going through all the work of collecting and storing pears, it’s worth doing right!
Pails of pears should be gently emptied into a box or bin on the ground. To avoid bruising, don’t stack them more than 2 layers deep.
Guideline 4: Only Put Unblemished Fruits Into Storage
Before putting your pears into cold storage, they should be inspected for bruises, nicks, worm holes or any other blemish. Scabs are ok.
See this pear? It looks like coddling moth got at it and as a result, it’s not fit for storage. Blemished pears can be used immediately or fed to livestock.
Guideline 5: Use Suitable Storage Containers
While we all love the idea of storing pears in woven baskets, this usually isn’t a good idea. A pear’s natural defense barrier is the skin. If punctured, decay will quickly take place. Use smooth-bottom boxes, totes or bins for holding your pears.
If you have lots of open shelving, you can spread your pears out on this. You’ll be able to quickly spot any signs of decay. However, if you have lots of pears to store, this probably won’t be a feasible option.
If you have several layers in a box (don’t stack then more than 2-3 pears deep), you can put paper between each one. Our bulk dry goods come in brown paper sacks and once they’re empty, I like to use these as a dividers.
Guideline 6: Remove For Ripening and Use
Because your pears are kept in such a cool location, they’ll be very slow to ripen in cold storage. In order to keep soft pears on hand, regularly remove a few and let them ripen at the back of your kitchen counter.
Guideline 7: Remember to Check For Decay
Remember your pears won’t last forever in cold storage! After 2-3 months have passed, look them over every other week and remove any that are showing signs of spoilage. Eventually, they may start rotting from the inside out.
Because I love having fruit around, I’m often too stingy in my use of it. It seems like I always end up throwing fruit away because I waited too long to use it up. Don’t make my bad habit your norm! If you have pears, be sure to enjoy them while they’re still good! It’s better to run out than to have to throw them out!
It really isn’t difficult to keep pears in cold storage. And you’ll love having them on hand! I’ve given you my best tips and now, it’s time for you to try! If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!