Unlike many other fruits, pears ripen from the inside out, so by the time they feel soft the flesh will be overripe and mealy. Because of this quirk, pears are not allowed to fully ripen on the tree. There is no “right” time to eat a pear. Some people like theirs as crunchy as an apple, and choose to eat them when they are green. Others like them soft as butter, with fully yellow skins. Most people fall in between, choosing a pear that’s mostly yellow on the outside, with a smooth, not overly soft flesh. If you don’t already know what ripeness you like, experiment with a few pears and eat them at all the stages of green to yellow!
To speed up the ripening process, you can put pears in a closed paper bag with an already-ripe apple or banana. Check daily. Pears are considered ripe when they yield slightly to gentle pressure at the stem end, but again, you might like them softer or crunchier than that. To slow down the ripening process, store them in the refrigerator.
Frozen pears can be added to upside down cakes and muffins all winter. For tips on how to freeze them, consult the Universityof Georgia Cooperative Extension Serviceat http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/uga_freeze_fruit.pdf. For canning instructions, please refer to this online publication from the Colorado State University Extension: www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09347.html.