It's easy to can your own pears! Here's how to do it, complete instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. In the winter when you open a jar, the pears will taste MUCH better than anything you've ever had from a store, and by selecting the right fruit, it will use less sugar than store-bought canned pears. Pears, plums, cherries or nectarines can be packed in very light, light or medium sugar syrup. They can also be packed in water, apple juice or white grape juice.
Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of about 12 to 18 months, and aside from storing in a cool, dark place, require no special attention.
You might also be interested in making pear butter!
most important step! You need pears that are sweet, and ripe.
A little known fact: Pears are picked unripe - they don't ripen well on
the tree. So, unlike peaches, pears WILL ripen at home! Proper ripeness of
pears at canning time is important to the quality
of the product; as it affects color, flavor, aroma, and over-all quality of finished product
Choose ripe, mature fruit of ideal quality for eating fresh or cooking. They should not be mushy, but they also should not be rock hard: just as ripe as you would eat them fresh.
The most popular variety is Bartlett pears, typically available the first two weeks in September in many areas. Orcas and El Dorado are also varieties commonly used for canning. See the FAQ. If they are to be transported or not processed immediately, pick while slightly green and allow them to ripen in a cool, dark place.
Store fresh pears in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
An average of 171/2 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 11 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs 50 pounds and yields 16 to 25 quarts - an average of 21/2 pounds per quart. A pound of pears yields 2 cups of sliced pears.
You can pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store. But for large quantities, you will find that real* farmer's markets, like the Farmer's Market in Forest Park, Georgia have them at the best prices.
* - not the cutesy, fake farmer's markets that are just warehouse grocery stores that call themselves farmer's markets.
Pears must be packed in a solution of water and sugar or fruit juice. It's up to you which to use. Sugar is added to improve flavor, help stabilize color, and retain the shape of the fruit. It is not added as a preservative. Sugar solution is much less expensive (unless you have a supply of cheap grape juice), so I usually use a light solution to keep sugar (and the added calories) to a minimum.
|Light||2 cups||6 cups||7 cups|
|Medium||3 cups||6 cups||6 1/2 cups|
|Heavy||4 cups||6 cups||7 cups|
To prepare syrup, while heating water, add sugar slowly, stirring constantly to dissolve. Bring to a gentle boil. Fill jars while syrup is still boiling hot. After preparing the liquid syrup, keep it hot (but not boiling).
This is a good time to get the jars ready! The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle. Otherwise put the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. I just put the lids in a small pot of almost boiling water for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" (available from target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) to pull them out.
I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the pears in plain cold or lukewarm water
Cut out any brown spots and mushy areas. Cut the pears in half, or quarters or slices, as you prefer! Remove pits!
Tip from a visitor (I haven't tried this one yet, but it does work for peaches):
A visitor writes on September 19, 2013: "I thought I'd pass on a tip I was told from a farmer wife 37 years ago. You can blanch pears. Bring your pot of water to a boil. Put in 2-4 pears at a time and then remove. Don't let them sit in the water more than a few seconds. Place under cold water and the skin comes right off. I then put it in a bowl of cold water with fresh fruit. This has been a life saver for me and thought you'd like to know about it."
Now, to keep the fruit from turning brown, when you get a bowlful, sprinkle 1/4 cup lemon juice or Fruit-Fresh (which is just a mix of citric acid and vitamin C, perfectly natural). Then stir the pears to make sure all the surfaces have been coated.
Here's a tip from another visitor. I haven't tried it yet, but it's worth a try, if you are having problems with pears turning pink:
"I just canned them last week and the water bath produced nice white pears, but the pressure canner turned them pink. I had never seen that before, glad to see from your instructions that the pears are ok. Suggestion for keeping pears from turning brown from an old Farm Journal Freezing and Canning cookbook: After peeling, coring, etc. the pears, drop them in a solution of 2 tblsp. each of salt and vinegar to 1 gal. water. Drain before packing jars or putting into syrup for hot pack. Used this method many times and always produced nice pears. Thanks again for the information. "
Hot packing is recommended for all fruits because it is a bit safer and makes fruit easier to pack in jars. Raw packs also make poor quality pears. Hot packed pears are less likely to float than pears canned by the raw-pack method. Just put the cut pears into the boiling syrup solution for 5 minutes.
Neither the USDA nor the Ball Blue Book recommend nor have a recipe for cold packing or raw packing pears.
Note: you both heat the pears and then pack the pears in the same syrup!
Note: the photos below are of peaches (my pear photos came out blurry) - it it is IDENTICAL in every single regard.
Pack the pears into sanitized jars (leaving 1/2 inch space at the top) and cover with boiling sugar syrup leaving 1/2 inch head space. (If you don't cook or heat the pears first, this is called "cold packing"). Run a rubber spatula or table knife gently between pears and jar to release trapped air bubbles. To do this more effectively, tilt the jar slightly while running the tool between the fruit and the edge of the jar and also pressing inward against the fruit a few times.
After packing the pears in the jar, pour the sugar solution up to 1/2 inch (1 cm) from the top. the fruit should be covered completely. Wipe rim and screw threads with a clean damp cloth. Add lid, screw band and tighten firmly and evenly. Do not over tighten.
fruits often will float if the sugar syrup is too heavy, if jars are
packed too loosely or if air remains in the tissues of the fruit after
processing. To avoid this use a light or medium sugar syrup, make sure
fruit is firm and ripe and pack fruit tightly in jars without crushing.
If fruit is not covered by liquid it may darken during storage (but does not necessarily mean it is spoiled, as all fruits will darken somewhat). To avoid this be sure fruit is covered by removing air bubbles from jars liquid while still leaving the recommended head space. Also be sure to remove trapped air bubbles as described earlier.
Pears and apples may also show a blue, red or pink color change after canning. This is the result of natural chemical changes that sometimes occur as fruits are heated. It is harmless and won't affect flavor!
Also, avoid storing canned food near heat sources such as a furnace, water heater, hot water or sunny areas. Jars need to be kept cool and dark for longer storage life and to protect against spoilage. Be sure to store in a dry place. If the lid or band rusts, that can cause the seal to break.
You can "can" pears in either a water bath or pressure canner.
Water bath canner: Put the sealed jars in the canner and keep them cover with at least 1 inch of water and boiling. Boil them for at least 20 minutes (and no more than 30 min).
Water Bath Times. Recommended process time for Pears, halved or sliced in a boiling-water canner, using a hot pack in pints or quart jars.
|Process Time at Altitudes of|
|Jar size||0 - 1,000 ft||1,001 - 3,000 ft||3,001 - 6,000 ft||Above 6,000 ft|
Pressure Canning: Processing directions for canning pears in a dial, or a weighted-gauge canner are given in Table 1, Table 2, and Table 3.
Table 2. Process Times for Pears, halved or sliced in a Dial-Gauge Pressure Canner.
|Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of|
|Style of Pack||Jar Size||Process Time||0 - 2,000 ft||2,001 - 4,000 ft||4,001 - 6,000 ft||6,001 - 8,000 ft|
|Hot||Pints or Quarts||10 minutes||6 psi||7 psi||8 psi||9 psi|
Process Times for Halved or sliced Pears in
a Weighted-Gauge Pressure Canner.
|Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of|
|Jar Size||Process Time (Min)||0 - 1,000 ft||Above 1,000 ft|
|Pints or Quarts||10||5||10|
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight), here they won't be bumped. You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.
Canned pears and pear nectar will maintain quality best when stored up to 66 months at 40/F, 40 months at 70/F, or 15 months at 90/F.
If you'd rather dry or freeze pears, let me know; I'm working on those directions. Dried pears can be stored up to 24 months at 40/F, 3 months at 70/F, or 1 month at 90/F. Well packaged frozen pears will keep up to 18 months.
From left to right:
Above is the
2020 version of
the Ball Blue Book