If you like the idea of home-canned fruit sitting on your shelves in the middle of winter, then you’re going to love this easy recipe to preserve pears!
To can pears you simply have to prep the fruit and the canning supplies, make the syrup, can the fruit, and process the jars.
It really is as easy as it sounds! What’s better, the whole process doesn’t take long. If you follow the detailed tips and step-by-step instructions we’re going to provide, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh pears all year long!
What Are the Best Pears for Canning?
Just like when canning apricots, selecting the best pears for canning means choosing the ones that will hold up better to the canning process because they’re less likely to turn mushy. So you’ll want to pick mature, slightly under-ripe, and firm pears.
We like to can Bartlet pears because of their flavor, but some people find them too grainy. If you’re one of them, you can go for d’Anjous, Bosc, or Comice. The truth is any variety of pear will do as long as they’re at the proper ripeness.
The only exception is Asian pears, also known as apple pears. While they can be canned as well, they require the addition of an acid, such as lemon juice, to make them safe for canning. In most cases, you should add 1 tablespoon to each pint jar or 2 tablespoons to each quart jar. But we’re not going to focus on those in this article because you’d need to use a pressure canner with them.
Pears are one of the rare fruits that are picked green from the tree, which means they need to be ripened before canning them.
You can lay them out in a cool area and wait for a few days until they just start to turn yellow. Just try to place them in such a way that they’re not touching each other.
How to Can Pears Step-by-Step
For the ingredients, you’re obviously going to need pears. Pressure canners can typically take a load of either 9 pint-sized (500 ml) jars or 7 quart (1 L) jars. For a canner load of pint jars, you’ll need about 11 pounds (5 kg) of pears, and for a load of quart jars, you should get approximately 17 ½ pounds (8 kg) of pears.
To prep the pears you’re going to need lemon juice, and to make the syrup, sugar, honey, or juice. For 11 pounds of pears, you should need about 6 ½ cups (1.5 L) of water and ¾ cups (96 g) of sugar.
When it comes to the supplies required for canning pears, you should be able to find most of them in your kitchen:
- Pressure canner
- Canning jars with their lids
- Canning tools (lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, bubble popper, and canning bands)
- Kettle or large pot
- Large pot
- Medium-sized pot
- Kitchen towels
- Vegetable peeler or paring knife
- Cutting board
- Slotted spoon
Sugar is typically used in the canning process as a preserving agent, but in canning, pears are just a flavoring element. So if you don’t want additional added sugar with your pears, like honey, fruit juice, or sugar, you can omit it because it’s not a safety consideration.
However, you do need to cook the pears in syrup before canning them, but don’t worry, we’ll be using a light syrup in this “recipe”. The syrup will also help the fruit retain its color for long-term storage.
Preparing the pears the right way is key to retain their yellowish color as much as possible, and prevent them from browning. This is what you should do:
- Wash the pears with cool water and thoroughly drain them.
- Use a knife to cut the tops and bottoms off the pears.
- Switch to a vegetable peeler or paring knife and peel off all the skins. We’ve found that the easiest way to do it is by making a straight downward movement.
- Slice the fruit in half or in quarters, starting from the stem down to the bottom.
- Remove the core from pears by making a cut from top to bottom.
- Place the halves or quarters into a bowl of cold water that has been acidified with lemon juice to prevent oxidation and discoloration. (You can find more information about how to keep pears from browning in the FAQ section.)
Once the pears are submerged in the solution of water and lemon juice, it’s time to move onto making the syrup for canning.
Prepare the Canning Supplies
If you’ve never used a pressure canner before, we highly suggest that you read the manufacturer’s instructions first to get familiar with this piece of equipment.
To prepare your canning supplies, you should:
- Wash both the canning jars and the lids with warm, soapy water. Make sure to rinse them thoroughly afterward, nobody wants to taste soap with their pears! Also, make sure not to boil the lids because it can affect their ability to seal.
- Lower the jar rack into the pressure canner, set the jars, and fill the canner with water.
- Only sterilize the jars (not the lids!) by boiling them over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes.
- You can start making the syrup while you wait for the sterilization process to end.
- When the jars are ready, it’s crucial that you keep them and the lids warm until they’re ready to use. You can warm them in a small pot over low heat, always checking on them often so they don’t boil.
Lay a clean kitchen towel on the counter and line up your freshly washed jars and lids on top of it when you’re ready to start canning your pears, so they don’t crack from the difference in temperature.
A quick tip before we move onto the next stage of the canning process: to prevent the jars from cooling down, take them out of the warm water as you need them, one at a time.
Depending on how sweet you want your pears to be, you might want to use a thin or medium syrup when canning them. For a thin syrup, you should need ½ cup syrup (113 ml) for every 2 cups of fruit (440g).
- Mix 1 cup sugar (130 g) and 4 cups water (800 ml) in a large pot.
- Heat over medium until the sugar dissolves.
- Drain the pears and once the syrup starts boiling, transfer them to the pot. If you’re working with a large amount of fruit, make sure to add them one layer at a time so you don’t fill the pot.
- Cook for 5 minutes.
This canning method is called hot pack. Even though it’s possible to use the quicker raw pack method, we prefer hot packing not only because the pears taste better, but also because it allows us to fit more fruit in each jar.
Another benefit of hot packing is that it eliminates fruit float almost completely. Fruit float occurs when the fruit floats to the top of the jar and leaves all the syrup on the bottom. This is a very common phenomenon, and it also happens when you’re canning whole tomatoes, for example.
As long as the jars are properly sealed, there’s nothing wrong with fruit float because it’s not dangerous. However, you’ll notice a difference in the flavor.
Your pears and the syrup are ready, and your jars are sterilized. We’ve finally reached the final stages of the pear canning process: jarring!
These are the steps you should follow to transfer the pears to the canning jars:
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears from the pot to the jars. We like to place them cavity-side down to maximize the space when filling the jars.
- Ladle the remaining boiling syrup over the pears, leaving a ½ inch (13 mm) headspace (i.e. the space between the top of the fruit and that of the jar).
- Release any trapped air bubbles with the bubble popper (or a chopstick if you don’t have one) by running it between the glass and the food. You have to do it gently to avoid creating new bubbles.
- Measure the headspace again, and add more water if needed.
- Wipe away any food or liquid on the rims so there’s nothing that can prevent a seal from forming.
- Finally, attach each lid and canning band. Keep in mind that overtightening canning bands can prevent the vacuum seal from forming.
We’re almost done!
Process the Jars of Pears
To process the jars of pears, there are only five steps to follow:
- Fill the boiling-water canner with water and bring it to a boil.
- Use a jar lifter or any rubber-tipped tongs to transfer the jars to the canner. They should be completely covered with water.
- Put the lid on and process pint jars for 20 minutes and quart jars for 25 minutes.
- When the processing time is over, turn off the burner, lift the lid, and allow the jars to sit for 5 minutes.
- Use the jar lifter again to carefully transfer the jars to a thick towel and let them cool off completely for 12 hours. The lids should start to pop within 20 to 30 minutes of being removed from the water, signaling a successful sealing.
And that’s it! All that’s left is for you to date, label, and store your canned spoils in a cool, dark place. Canned pears should last a very long time, but they retain their fresh flavor during the first 12 months.
Even if you’re a beginner, learning how to can pears is not hard. We’ve broken down the process into five simple stages to make it easier to follow.
Hopefully, with the clear and straightforward instructions and useful tips we’ve given you, you’ll be able to achieve the most delicious results and enjoy fresh pears whenever you want.