Course 2:

PEAR SIZING, HANDLING & RIPENESS

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Pear Sizing

Pear size is based on the number of similar sized pears that fit in a historical standard sized box. For example, a size 80 pear means that 80 pears of that size will fit into a standard box.

Northwest pears are packed in many different boxes but they still reference the size based on how many fit in a historical standard box.

Sizes generally range from the large 60 count to the small 150 count.

Handling Pears

Like any produce, USA Pears should be handled carefully. Pears emit ethylene, a naturally occurring hormone generated by many fruits including pears, apples, bananas, and tomatoes which can have an adverse effect on other produce items when stored together for long periods. So, when storing pears in the cooler, be careful to keep pears away from ethylene-sensitive produce such as lettuce and potatoes.

  • Maintain the cold chain. Boxes should be promptly removed from the trailer or pallet and placed under desired holding conditions: store under refrigeration to slow ripening or at room temperature to speed ripening.
  • Regardless of where pears are stored, keep the boxes off wet floors to avoid box breakdown.
  • If restacking boxes, stack no more than 5 or 6 high to avoid crushing the fruit in the bottom boxes.
  • Do not drop boxes as pears may bruise or other damage may occur. Damage is not always visible until fruit ripens, often at the consumer’s home, which may cause shopper dissatisfaction.
  • Rotate on a first in/first out, or ripeness basis.

First In, First Out (FIFO)

When managing your produce inventory in the back room it is best to practice FIFO, First In First Out inventory management. Pears that have been in storage the longest are considered the “First In” and should be selected over the newest, most recently added pears - even if the more recently received pallets are in the way.

Fruit is perishable and it is essential that the oldest stock moves out first - or “First Out” - as the newer stock has a longer storage life. The FIFO rule - First In, First Out - is one of the most important principles to follow to do your best job preserving fruit quality.

But, when should you bend the FIFO rule? Exceptions arise when more recently received fruit is riper than you expected or what you already have on hand. It is important to check the ripeness of fruit on hand when new fruit is received in order to get the riper fruit on display first.

It can also be helpful to label fruit boxes as they arrive so you'll know exactly how long they have been in the facility.

Determining Ripeness

Inspect pears daily to judge their degree of ripeness.

Pears are one of the few fruits that don’t ripen on the tree. They ripen after they are picked, and they are in the process of ripening while they’re in your store.

How can you tell when a pear is ripe? While Bartlett pears change color as they ripen, most other pear varieties do not significantly change color. For non-Bartlett varieties, such as Anjou, “Check the Neck” for ripeness.

Pears ripen from the inside out, so it is important to check for ripeness near the stem end (the “neck”). Gently press your thumb near the stem of the pear and if it gives to gentle pressure, it is ripe. By the time a pear is soft around the middle, it may be overripe, so be sure to “Check the Neck” for ripeness.

To slow the ripening process, keep pears under cooler temperatures. Conversely, keep pears at warmer (room) temperatures to speed ripening.

How to Check the Neck for Ripeness


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