Have you ever had a craving for a fresh, juicy pear in the middle of winter? Ever groaned over the cost of these fruits in the grocery store, come winter time? I did too, until I learned how to harvest and keep pears in cold storage! The process is very simple. Let me walk you through it all!
Harvest and Keep Pears in Cold Storage
Pears are very simple to preserve via cold storage methods. However, there are a few things you should know before making the move, things that will prolong the life of your fruit! I’ve outline them for you below, step by step.
Pears Need To Be Kept in a Cold Place
In order to keep pears over the winter months, you need a place that stays in the 35F-45F (2C-7C) temperature zone. A refrigerator, cold room, root cellar or an outdoor shed that stays above freezing temperatures will do nicely!
The Pear Variety Matters
While you can put any type of pear into cold storage, not all types keep well. If you want these fruits for long-term cold storage, choose varieties known as “winter pears.” You can find a list of types here.
Use Proper Harvesting Techniques
If you wish to harvest and keep pears in cold storage, harvest fruit with stems attached! Open flesh will cause the fruit to decay much faster. Also be sure to handle the fruits gently, stacking them no deeper than 3-4 levels in your harvesting pail.
This usually means lots more climbing up and down your ladder, but if you’re going to 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. Once again, don’t stack the pears more than 3-4 layers deep.
Choose Unblemished Fruits for Storage
Storage pears should be free of bruises, nicks, worm holes or anything of the sort. This one? I believe coddling moth got at it! Be sure to inspect each piece of fruit before setting it aside for cold storage! Blemished pears can be used immediately or fed to livestock.
What You Need to Know About Storage Containers
The first time I overwintered pears, I had lots of open shelving in my basement cold room! Instead of boxing them up, I simply spread the fruit out over the shelves. It was handy, because when a pear went bad, it was easy to spot and dispose of!
However, this isn’t feasible if you’re looking to overwinter a good number of the fruits, or if you have inadequate space!
Pears can be stored in cardboard boxes, in plastic bins, baskets or wooden boxes. Just make sure your storage container has smooth sides and a smooth bottom. A pear’s natural defense barrier is it’s skin. If punctured, decay will quickly take place.
If you have several layers in a box (don’t stack then more than 3-4 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.
Remove For Ripening and Use
Depending on your temperatures and the pear variety, your fruit may eventually ripen in storage. But the best way to put fresh pears on the table is to regularly remove a few from cold storage. Let them sit on the kitchen counter until they soften and grow sweet.
One Last Thing
You need to know that pears won’t last forever in cold storage! After 2-3 months have passed, look them over every 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!
So there you have it! That’s how a person can harvest and keep pears in cold storage!