PUBLISHED: 3:34 PM on Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Check the Neck for Ripeness!
Pears are a unique fruit that ripen best off the tree (without getting technical, pears left to ripen on the tree can become gritty); they are meant to be ripened after purchase.

So, if you are faced with a bunch of rock-hard pears, follow this easy 1, 2, 3 process to get your pears to their ripe and juicy perfection:

1. Place hard pears in a paper bag or a covered fruit bowl, and leave at room temperature.

2. Every day, "Check the Neck for Ripeness." To do this, apply gentle pressure to the stem end of the pear with your thumb. When it yields to the pressure, it's ready to eat (usually takes a few days).

3. Enjoy your ripe, juicy pears now, or store them in the fridge until you're ready to use them. The fridge will slow down the ripening process, but won't stop it. Ready-to-eat pears will stay fresh in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.