There are few things in life better than biting into a juicy, sweet pear and having the juice dribble down your chin. There are also few things in life worse than biting into a crunchy, tasteless pear. After 22 years on this earth, I can safely say I know how to tell when a pear is ripe.

pear, apple, juice
Alex Tom

Because pears are one of the few fruits that don’t ripen on the tree, you don’t want to eat a freshly picked pear (which sucks, I know). Pears are picked when they’re mature, but not ripe, and then slowly ripen from the inside out. Some pears, like a Bartlett pear, change color when they’re ripe. Most varieties don’t though, so you’ll need to test for ripeness yourself. 

To see if a pear is ripe, simply push gently on the flesh near the stem with your thumb. If the fruit is slightly soft, it’s ripe. If the flesh is hard, don’t eat it. If your pear is still hard, leave it on your counter at room temperature until it’s ripe. Dying to eat your pear? Place it in a bowl with other ripening fruits. The ethylene gas emitted from the other ripe fruits will quicken the ripening of your pear.

pastry, sweet, bread, cake
Jamie Medina

Once your pear is ripe, you can keep in in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. When the pear is totally squishy, it means it’s overripe. Don’t toss your fruit though, because you can still cook with it. Overripe pears taste fantastic in a simple pear galette or in a boozy autumn sangria.