July – November from California
Driving down the highway in Kelseyville with Bartlett pear orchards on each side of the vehicle is absolutely breathtaking. California Summer Bartletts come from two major growing districts. The early “River Pears” grown along the Sacramento River in both Sacramento and San Joaquin counties come to us in July and the latter “Mountain Pears” that are grown in Mendocino, Lake and El Dorado Counties begin harvest at the beginning of August.
These self-pollinating trees are in production for an average of 50 to 75 years and some trees still produce beyond. The fruit of the pear tree never ripens on the branch, only after it is picked or it falls will it ripen and become golden in color so growers harvest when it is green, but fully mature.
All California Bartletts are harvested by hand, placed in bins, and transported to a packing house where they are graded for quality and sorted by size. The pears are then brought to room temperature and held for four to six days until the ripeness “comes on.” They are then ready for fresh market or processing.
Unlike Northwest variety pears California Summer bartletts are ripe when gold in color and have a fair give to them. At that time only should they be refrigerated. If they get overripe and mushy, don’t throw them out! You’ve the perfect base for an excellent smoothie. Nutrition in California Bartlett pears includes a healthy dose of vitamin C and calcium.
Bartlett pears are also grown in Oregon and southern Washington. You can always tell the difference between the two by looking at the blossom end of the fruit. California is more of a bell-shaped fruit while the Northwest Bartlett will be tapered at the blossom. California Bartlett’s are in season July through November and Northwest Bartletts are available out of storage through Winter and sometimes into Spring.