What you see: An odd brown pattern on the outside of a pear
What it is: Russeting, a harmless response to water, frost and other environmental conditions
Eat or toss: Eat! Nothing wrong here
You know that rough, brown skin you often see around apple or pear stems? That’s russeting, which is a common response to water, frost and other environmental conditions.
Some pears are destined to russet—think of the rough brown texture of the Bosc pear. Others only sport russet in certain scenarios, typically when water collects on the skin, or when otherwise reacting to an environmental stressor.
This pear was likely exposed to frost around bloom time, says Rich Marini, professor of horticulture at Pennsylvania State University. Marini notes that potential other explanations include its position on the tree (with less sun exposure, lower fruit can be wetter and colder and therefore russet more) and treatments in the field (copper sprays are sometimes used to control pests in organic orchards, but the spray can also cause the pear to go into defensive mode).
But, in any event, a funky pear pattern like this is no cause for alarm—in fact, I'd venture that it looks like an old timey map. So, go ahead and explore. The skin will still be soft, and this fruit just might lead you to pear-a-dise. (Ha?)
Rich Marini. Professor of Horticulture, focus on tree and small fruit physiology and fruit production systems. Pennsylvania State University.
Russeting on Apples and Pears. The Fruit Guys.
Should I cut off the brown streaks on my apple? EatOrToss.com
Organic Fire Blight Management in the Western U.S. Extension.org.
Pest Management Strategic Plan for Pears in Oregon and Washington. Katie Murray and Joe DeFrancesco. Oregon State University.
What do you think of my russet belt? Well, you can’t say it’s not a-pear-ant!