There are few things more satisfying than a perfectly ripe pear. Sweet, fragrant and full of juice, they’re the perfect portable, healthy treat, and while they’re in season, you can pick them up in bulk for relatively little money. The only problem comes when they all suddenly ripen at once, and you find you have too many to eat them all before they start turning mushy.
But having a fridge full of overripe pears doesn’t have to be a problem. In fact, it can be a blessing in disguise. They may be too squishy to eat (at least if you want to keep your shirt clean), but slightly mushy pears are perfect for making pie and crumble fillings, jams, jellies, smoothies, and many more tasty pear-based recipes.
Here at Fine Dining Lovers, we say you can never have too many pears, and if yours start to go past their crisp, snackable best, we’ve got you covered with 10 delicious recipes that are perfect for overripe pears.
How to store pears
Many people buy pears when they’re still a little hard and let them ripen up at home. If your pears are still unripe when you first buy them, leave them out on the counter, as they will ripen more quickly at room temperature. If you want to speed things up a bit more, put them in a paper bag with a ripe apple or banana, as these fruits emit a ripening hormone called ethylene, which encourages fruit around them to ripen too.
Once your pears are ripe, transfer them to the fridge to slow down the ripening process, and eat them within the next week or two. At this point, you will want to keep them away from any ethylene-producing fruit, which also includes avocado, melons and peaches.
Are overripe pears safe to eat?
Overripe pears are generally safe to eat, but they won’t taste as good raw, and they’ll also be super messy to eat with your hands. They can, however, be cooked and added to desserts or other sweet treats.
While overripe pears are good to eat, rotten or mouldy pears are not. If your pears start to smell strange, if they’re shrivelled or liquid starts seeping out of them, this could be a sign they’ve started to rot. If you notice any of these things, or if they start growing mould, it’s time to throw them out.
How to use overripe pears
If you have some overripe pears in your fridge, there are still plenty of ways to use them. Make the most of your slightly squishy bounty with these tips and tricks.
Use them in baking
The more a pear ripens, the sweeter it gets, so overripe pears make the sweetest, juiciest pie and crumble fillings. Simply cut out any bruised flesh and use them in your favourite dessert or cake recipe. If you can’t find many pear recipes, they will work just as well in a recipe written for apples.
If you don’t have the time to do anything with them right now, just freeze them for later. Simply slice your pears and arrange on a baking tray in the freezer, and once they’ve frozen, transfer them to freezer bags and label them with the date. Stored in this way, pear slices should keep for up to 6 months.
Make them into a smoothie
Soft, squishy pears are great for smoothies, as they don’t require as much processing to break them down. They can be used by themselves or with any other fruit that you like.
Make them into a preserve
As with smoothies, overripe pears are great for jam making because they’re already soft and squishy before you start cooking them down. They work well in both sweet jams and jellies, or spicy chutneys.
For more ideas, check out these 10 sweet and savoury pear recipes, or keep reading for our top 10 recipes for using up overripe pears.
As we have already seen, slightly squishy fruit is great for smoothie-making, and we love this healthy but delicious green pear smoothie from The Spruce Eats. A great way to start your day, this green machine is packed with nutrient and antioxidant rich kale, but sweet pear, creamy banana, a little honey and some spices make it taste like a real treat.
Diced fruit is a delicious way to keep cakes and muffins moist while adding a little extra sweetness, and once the cakes have been baked, you won’t be able to tell the difference between ripe and overripe pear. These brown sugar and pear muffins from Efficient Delicious are easy to make, and show off the pear to its best advantage with complimentary flavours like cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
This super simple pear preserve from Practical Self Reliance uses just 3 ingredients - pears, sugar and lemon juice - and it means you can enjoy the delicious flavour of pears long after the season is over.
Crumble is another perfect way to use up overripe pears. Their extra-sweet flavour really makes that crumble filling extra delicious, and because the filling is hidden, it doesn’t matter if the fruit pieces are odd shapes where you’ve had to cut away bruises. This tasty pear crumble with almonds from Your Guardian Chef is designed especially for overripe pears, and takes just 15 minutes to prep.
Caramelised pear bread pudding
Caramelised pears in a pool of sticky caramel syrup make the ultimate luxury topping for this comforting caramelised pear bread pudding by Eating Well.
Pear ice pops
Another recipe that benefits from a softer-textured fruit, these sweet and refreshing pear and yoghurt ice pops from My Food Book are perfect for a dessert or snack on a hot summer’s day.
Simple, elegant and delicious, this classic poached pears recipe from Bigger Bolder Baking couldn’t be easier to make, and tastes great served hot or cold, with ice cream or caramel sauce.
Like applesauce but pear flavoured, this versatile pear sauce recipe from Good Life Eats can be drizzled over pancakes and waffles, used as a topping for ice cream, swirled into porridge or overnight oats, and even used as an accompaniment for roast pork.
This fruity and fragrant pear vinaigrette from All Recipes is the perfect dressing for a light salad, and goes particularly well with goat’s cheese. Because the pear is puréed, it doesn’t matter if it started out a little squishy, so this recipe is another great way to use up overripe fruit.
Vanilla spiced pear butter
A gourmet preserve made with pear, vanilla, orange, cinnamon, cardamom & nutmeg, this vanilla spiced pear butter from Baked in Arizona is great for adding fruity flavour to your morning toast, or as a topping for your pancakes or oatmeal.