Bartlett Pears are Here Again

This week, I harvested the pears from the small Bartlett pear tree in our backyard. After about a dozen pears had fallen off, I figured many of the pears still on the tree were ready to be picked. Plus, Bartlett pears typically are ready to harvest around the second or third week of August in the Bay Area. I use the technique of lifting up each pear in a horizontal position to determine if it is ready to pick. If the pear comes off easily from the branch, it is ready to harvest. If not, I leave it on the tree.

Like other pears, Bartlett pears need to be picked when they are not completely ripe, because they ripen from the inside out. Unlike Comice and Anjou, Bartlett pears can be left at room temperature to fully ripen after harvest.

Bartlett pears are one of the best tasting pears. They are right up there with Comice in flavor, although Comice is sweeter. Home grown Bartlett pears are better tasting and sweeter than most supermarket Bartlett pears, in my opinion. Some supermarket Bartlett pears are very good, but others are dry inside and/or lacking in flavor. I wonder if that’s because growers prefer to pick all of their pears at once, regardless of whether each pear is at its ideal point for picking to maximize its flavor when it subsequently finishes ripening indoors. When you grow pears at home, it is more feasible to test each pear individually before you pick it to make sure it is at its ideal picking time.

Our Bartlett tree didn’t have any pears last year. It is the poster child for an alternate bearing fruit tree. It has only produced more than a few pears in even numbered years. It takes a year off in the odd numbered years. Fertilizing it with an all-purpose fertilizer once or twice a year hasn’t changed that.

Here are some pictures of our bartlett pear tree that I took today after partially removing the bird netting I placed around it about a month ago.

Below is a picture of most of the 110 pears I picked from our Bartlett pear tree. In 2008, picked about 130 pears from the same tree. That year, most of the pears were small, about half to two-thirds the size of supermarket pears. In 2009, I pruned the tree a lot, which seems to have limited it’s production a bit. However, the average size of the pears is larger this year. Many of them are supermarket size.

August 12 2010 09:31 pm | Pears