So how do you know when they’re ready to eat? Skin color isn’t a reliable indicator. While Bartletts change from green to yellow as they ripen, most others show little change in color. The best way is to “check the neck,” an idea so helpful that Pear Bureau Northwest has actually trademarked it. Pears ripen from the inside out, and the neck is the narrowest part. Using your thumb, apply gentle pressure to the neck or stem end. If it yields slightly, the pear is ripe.
If the pears at the store aren’t ripe yet, that’s okay. They’ll actually transport more easily – a ripe pear’s skin is fragile – and will ripen at room temperature in your kitchen. And if they’re ripening faster than you can use them all up, pop them in the fridge to slow the process.
We’re no strangers to cooking with pears here at Blue Kitchen. Sure, we’ve made desserts with them – Baked Pears with Currants and Walnuts and Frangipane Pear and Cherry Cake were both big hits. We’ve also served them for breakfast as Ricotta Pancakes with Sautéed Pears, for lunch in Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Pear Jalapeño Chutney and for dinner as Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Pears and Onions. We’ve even sautéed them for a Valentine’s Day dinner of Duck Breasts with Pears and Shallots.
So the question wasn’t how to cook with pears, but rather what else to do with them. I had started down the pear cheese tart or galette path when Marion said, “What about pizza?” After we both shuddered over college memories of pineapple on pizza, we agreed she was on to something.