Delta Food Feature: Pears
There are over 3,000 varieties of pears, which are members of the rose family (who knew?!). The most popular variety grown in the Delta is the green Bartlett.
“Pear Season” starts in July, and in the Delta the picking is usually winding down by September. Pears have become a featured “fall” fruit, with magazines printing pear recipes right up to Thanksgiving, but that is a benefit we owe to modern refrigeration, not nature. Pears are a climacteric fruit; that is, a fruit that will continue to ripen after picking. Other climacteric fruits include apples, bananas, avocados and mangoes. Picking begins when the pears are still green and firm (which protects them during the packing process as well) and then held chilled in the packing shed coolers and shipped throughout the fall.
How cold do they keep pears to keep them from ripening until we are ready to buy? 32° F – due to a pear’s sugar content, it won’t freeze until the temperature hits around 28 degrees. Once the order comes in, the pears are shipped, timing the trucking and merchandising so that ripening will be taking place in the grocery store and your home, just in time for your enjoyment.
How to tell when your pears are perfectly ripe? Check out the California Pear Advisory Board website – they have a great descriptive tool for each variety so you can tell just when to bite in for that perfect sweet, creamy and delicious Delta pear experience!