Picking the Pommes - Perfect Apples, Pears & Quince

Picking the Pommes - Perfect Apples, Pears & Quince

Fall Farm Announcements

Autumn is truly here, and I can see it in the light, feel it the air, smell it in the afternoon wind. It’s harvest time, but also the season of serious cleanup of the summer growth, weeds gone wild and the accumulated dust of a long luscious summer.

Heirloom Orchard Walk this Sunday

Since the first one sold out, we are doing another heirloom apple and pear tasting this Sunday. Come try 20+ varieties you have never seen in stores. Walk the orchard with me while I answer all your fruit tree growing questions.
Heriloom orchard walk and tasting details and tickets here
View all of our Autumn workshops here

Farm Stand

We will be open every Saturday 10-2 for the month of October. Stop by for heirloom fruit and fresh figs too!

You Pick Rose Field is Open!

The roses are putting out their final flush for the year, and the blooms are generous. Come get a bucket before we close for the season. Walk ins are welcome too, Saturdays 10 am - 1 pm.

How to Pick the Best Pomme Fruit

As a follow-up to my earlier post about picking stone fruit, let’s talk about the harvesting pomme fruit. Pomme fruits include the apples, pears, Asian pears, quince and medlars, which I do not grow (yet). These fruits can all stay on the tree for longer than stone fruit. Picking them at the perfect moment can be tricky.


Apples give away their ripeness in part by color. Although the exact color varies by variety, ripe apples look luminous and glowing. There are some easier signs as well.  The first ripe fruit will fall to the ground, and fruit when cut open will reveal black instead of white seeds. Some apple tree varieties will hold their fruit well for weeks and mellow for better flavor, so researching each variety and experimental tastings for the perfect ripeness are definitely encouraged.

European Pears

European pears such as Bartletts, Warrens and D’anjou are frankly some of the trickiest fruit to capture at perfect ripeness. Many people tell me they have never had a good pear, and I suspect that is because they have never had a properly ripened pear. This is why. Pears ripen from the inside out. So when the outside flesh feels ripe and a bit soft to the touch, the inside is usually rotten.

Ideally, pears are picked when “mature” but not ripe. Mature means:

  • the fruit has reached full size
  • seeds have turned from white to brown
  • the fruit will snap off the tree easily when lifted by 90 degrees to the branch

Next, pears are put into cold storage, usually around 34-36 degrees Fahrenheit, for at least two weeks. Home orchardists can use their refrigerators for this curing stage.

Once cured, European pears are then left at room temperature for 3-7 days for perfect ripeness. The best way to tell when they have reached peak flavor is to press a thumb on the fruit at the top when the stem joined. If it gives a little, just a touch of softness, it’s ready.

Asian Pears

Asian pears are fortunately much easier than their European counterparts. When they snap from the tree easily and begin to fall to the orchard floor, they are ready! I’ve found color to be less of a tell for Asian pears. Since they are delicious eaten fresh from the tree, sampling a few fruits is the best test of ripeness.


Not many people grow quince, but they should. The Fall edition of Edible Monterey includes an article I wrote on all their marvelous attributes, with recipes. You can read it here.

The best way to know when quince are ripe is to smell them. They smell magical when ready. Quince also display their ripeness by turning from green to gold, though a little green left on the skin is acceptable. Over-watered quince left too long on the tree can split.  Ideally, harvest and put the fruits into the refrigerator where they can be safely stored for many months.

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