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Bartlett Pear- A Thing Of Beauty

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Lake County, CA about 3 hours north of San Francisco, has been growing the best Bartlett pears since 1885. Lake County receives cooling wind from over the mountains that separates Lake County from Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and the sea. Pear trees are typically in production for 50 to 75 years, although some trees still produce fruit after 100 years. Pears are grown all over the United States but most pear varieties require about 1,000 to 1,200 hours below 45 degrees F during the winter to complete their dormant period.

Dan and Alice Todd of Todd Organics are 4th generation farmers with 32 acres of organic Bartlett green and red pears in Potter Valley located just north of Lake County. Dan bought part of his father’s operation in 1976 and started the transition to organic in 1985 after deciding there had to be a better way to farm. His family lives on the farm next to the orchard and he was concerned about the chemicals and how they would affect his family. Dan built a feeling of connectedness to the land to hand down to his children who are now in their 20’s and married with children. The creeks and natural habitat have many beneficial insects. Abundant wildlife include deer and bears which they try to discourage from eating the pears. Dan has been composting for years and grows cover crops such as legumes to maintain healthy soil.

As we have seen throughout the year the cold and moist weather has affected most crops, including pears. Problems with mildew have resulted in lost crops and a later harvest. Bartlett pears are usually done being harvested mid to late August but this year the harvest finished in mid -September. The farm is located 1000 feet above sea level and the hot days and cool nights grow delicious pears. When the fruit stays on the trees longer they develop a higher sugar content and more intense flavor.

Bartlett pears found in California are sourced on the west coast from California, Washington and Oregon. We feel that the California Bartlett pears have the best flavor. Bartlett’s can be found from August all the way through the holidays and are picked mature when they are still green but not ripe. They ripen and brown from the inside out and have a sweet aroma. Test your pear for ripeness by applying gentle pressure to the stem. If it gives slightly it is starting to ripen. If the body of the pear gives when you gently apply pressure it is overripe. Don’t buy ripe pears, let them ripen at home. If you plan to eat them in a 3-5 days buy them green and let them ripen on your counter, not in the refrigerator. If you plan to eat them in 1-2 days buy them yellow. Be adventurous with your food and cut a slice from a Bartlett pear when you think it’s ripe. A perfectly ripe pear is a thing of beauty, so have fun experimenting with how long it takes for your pears to ripen until you get that perfect pear that blows you away!  You can refrigerate ripe pears for 3-5 days, but they are best eaten right away.

Bartlett pears are perfect eaten out of hand, tossed in a salad, used for canning and they also go great paired with cheese and wine.


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