Savoring Summercrisp Pear

Here in southeastern Wisconsin, we can grow many pear varieties. The majority of them ripen in September and October. A few however, ripen in August. One of these summer pears is Summercrisp. This pear variety was developed by the University of Minnesota and introduced around the mid 1980’s. It is very cold hardy (zone 4) and seems to bear a tremendous yield every year.

The first time I sampled Summercrisp Pear was in 1988 at the U of MN during a summer field day. I was very surprised as the fruit was small but crispy. Most pears are usually eaten when soft but not Summercrisp! This variety was actually chosen because of its sweet, crispy flavor when picked and eaten at the green/ripe stage. Very unusual. It is edible when allowed to fully ripen and become soft, but its quality is best when eaten while green/ripe.

Green/ripe stage is when the fruit starts to lose its dark green skin color and becomes sea green with perhaps just a hint of yellow/red blush on the sunny side of the fruit as it hangs on the tree. Harvest pears too early and they will still ripen but not be sweet. Harvest pears too late and they will be mushy and perhaps rotten around the core. It is always a debate as to when is the best time to pick pears. The key with Summercrisp is to pick them when the skin is just turning to light green. At this stage, they can easily be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks of excellent eating to make the season last. I am always amazed how fast they ripen if I do not get them all picked and refrigerated at this time. Sometimes within 4 days they lose their crispiness if left on the tree any longer.

Summercrisp must be cross pollinated with another pear variety. In my home orchard, I have a Summercrisp and a Bartlett Pear. I am amazed each year as the Summercrisp blooms much earlier than Bartlett Pear. Yet their bloom times overlap enough that both my varieties bear large crops despite my annual concern. I would have to say that my Summercrisp actually bears too many fruits! Every year the branches are just loaded. Being a small pear, they are excellent for children’s school lunches due to their size. Or pack 2 in the lunchbox for the adults who are still a kid at heart when it comes to fruit (especially when home grown). Savor the summer of Summercrisp!