Whether buying Asian pears in a supermarket or harvesting them from your own trees, there are a few indicators that you should pay attention to in order to tell if they are ripe. Asian pears also have other names, including Japanese pear, African pear, Nashi pear, Nashi apple, Korean pear, Taiwan pear, bae li, bapple, sand pear, pear apple and papple. They take the apple parts of these names from their round shape rather the usual pear shape.
Know your pear variety. Check references to determine what part of the season they will be ripe in. Different varieties have slightly different maturation times, but have a wide range from mid-July to October, depending on the local climate. If in doubt, leave the pear on the tree a little longer, since they taste best when fully ripened on the branch.
Check the color of the pear. For Asian pears that originate in Japan, the ripe color is a yellow-brown or yellow. For those with roots in China, they will be greenish-yellow when ripe. The color should be mostly even all over the pear, not in spots.
Check the thickness of the skin. Ripe Asian pears have a thinner skin than their unripe counterparts, as the fruit has finished using nutrients from the skin. The skin should be translucent and is sometimes referred to as clear.
Smell the pear. The main indicator of a ripe Asian pear is its smell. It should be strong and sweet when sniffed closely. However, keep in mind in colder weather the scent will be less strong.
Taste the pear. It should be sweet to the taste and juicy, but not “melting” in your mouth; that means it’s overripe. The flesh of the pear is crisp when it’s ripe, similar to an apple, and shouldn’t be mushy or mealy.
- Testing Asian pears for firmness is not a good indicator as it is with other pears. Asian pears are still very firm when they are ripe. They are overripe if they are soft, wrinkled, bruised or darker in color.
- Unripe pears that are in danger from early frost can be brought inside and kept in a cool, dark location for a few days to ripen further. Ripe Asian pears can be kept in a refrigerator for weeks.