Canning pears is a simple way to preserve pears for year-round use. It’s perfectly fine to can them with or without sugar, and in halves or slices based on your needs.
There’s a famous quote from Ralph Waldo Emmerson that says, “There are only 10 minutes in the life of a pear when it’s perfect to eat.”
That’s definitly an exaggeration, but in truth, peak pear ripeness lasts a few days at best. Sure, they ripen in the fall alongside all the hearty storage crops, but they’re usually short-lived. While they’re amazing in season, most varieties just don’t store well in the refrigerator or root cellar.
Canning pears is the perfect way to capture pears at the peak of ripeness. Home-canned pears maintain their flavor and texture better than just about any other fruit.
I really love making a pear version of the famous New York Times Plum Torte, taking canned pear halves out of the jar and nestling them right into the batter. It’s a beautiful presentation, and exceptionally delicious.
I make home-canned pears in both pints and quarts, the quarts for my baking, and the pints for my daughter. She’ll pop them open and eats them right out of the jar all winter long.
Best Pear Varieties for Canning
Most people say that Bartlett pears are the very best for canning…and I agree with them. They’re firm enough to hold up to cooking (without turning into bear sauce), but they’re soft enough that their texture before and after canning is pretty similar.
Bosc and seckel pears are also great for canning. If you happen to have a unique variety as a backyard tree, do a bit of research to determine if they’re good “canning pears” or if they’re better for sauce and pear butter.
(We also grow golden spice, ure, parker, and Cabot pears but I haven’t harvested enough of any of those varieties that they made it into the canning kitchen. Thus far, I’ve always canned bartlett and they don’t disappoint.)
Most European pear variety can be canned using this process, but be aware that Asian pear varieties are less acidic and need special consideration for canning (added acidity to the canning water). Here’s a primer on canning Asian pears, which come out wonderfully, but just require a bit of lemon juice for safe canning.
How Many Pears fit in a Canning Jar?
It takes a surprising amount of pears to fill a canning jar. A quart jar requires roughly 2 1/2 pounds of pears, which is roughly 5 whole average-sized pears. The ones we grow here in Vermont are often on the small side, meaning it’s 6-7 pears per jar left as halves.
If sliced, you’ll need a bit more to fill a quart since they pack a bit better. Plan on 2 1/2 to 3 pounds sliced, or 5-7 pears.
When canning in pints, you’ll fit just a smidge over a pound of pears per jar (especially in halves). As slices, plan for 1 1/4 pounds per pint (or 2 to 3 pears).
(All weights are in whole pears as they come off the tree, unpeeled and before prepping for canning.)
Syrup for Canning Pears
Pears can be canned in a variety of liquids, and plain water is a totally acceptable option. Fruit juices (apple, pear and grape) are also good options.
In my opinion, plain water canning washes out their flavor as they lose some sweetness to the canning liquid. Canning in fruit juice, unless you’re canning in pear juice, alters their flavor.
My favorite canning liquid is extra light syrup, which is roughly the same sweetness as the pears themselves. It doesn’t add sweetness, but simply maintains their natural fruit flavor. (Other sweeteners, such as honey and maple are also an option instead of cane sugar.)
The recipe for extra light syrup is as follows:
For a 7 quart canner batch ~ 10 1/2 cups water and 1 1/4 cups sugar
For a 9 pint canner batch ~ 6 1/2 cups water and 3/4 cups sugar
If you like sweeter canned pears, other syrup concentrations, from extra light all the way up to heavy syrup are safe for water bath canning. See this canning syrup table if you’d like the measurements for other syrup concentrations.
How to Can Pears
Canning pears starts with preparing the fruit. Peel the pears with a sharp paring knife, and then slice in half.
Since the flesh is relatively soft, it’s easiest to core the fruit with either a teaspoon or half teaspoon measuring spoon. A melon baller works well too, if you happen to have one of those on hand.
Slip the measuring spoon behind the core and scoop out a half-sphere of pear core.
After the seed core, the center often has stringy material that’s not ideal for canning. Some pear varieties lack this, so you’ll have to use your best judgment.
This part is cosmetic but it will produce a higher quality canned pear. Slide that same measuring spoon up along the core, gently scraping out the remainder of the stringy core, and down to remove the blossom end.
When you’re done, the pear half should look like this…
At this point, I chose to leave them as halves. Slicing the pears is an option too if you’re more interested in canning pear slices instead of halves. I can always slice them later, and canning pear halves leaves more flexibility.
Place the fruits into a bowl of cold water with a splash of lemon juice added. This will prevent them from browning while you peel the rest.
This is optional, but the fruit looks much nicer in the jar (and in baked goods later) if they don’t brown.
While you’re preparing the fruit, start heating a water bath canner.
In a separate pot, prepare a canning liquid. As mentioned above, you have plenty of choices when canning pears, and you can just use plain water. Fruit juice and light to heavy syrup are also allowed.
I use extra light syrup, which requires 10 1/2 cups of water and 1 1/4 cups sugar for a 7-quart canner batch (from about 17 1/2 pounds of pears).
Bring your canning liquid of choice to a boil, then strain the pears from the lemon juice water and add them to the boiling canning liquid.
Cook the pears for 5 minutes until they’re heated through, and then pack them into prepared canning jars (pints or quarts).
Seal the jars with 2 part canning lids and process in a water bath canner. Standard process times are 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts below 1,000 feet in elevation. For higher elevations, see the notes below.
Preserve pears at home with this simple water bath canning recipe!
- 17 to 18 pounds pears (roughly 30 to 35 pears)
- Canning Syrup, Juice or Water *see note
- (Optional- lemon juice to prevent browning)
- Prepare a water bath canner.
- Peel and halve pears.
- Core pears, using a small measuring spoon to scoop out the core.
- Slice if desired, or leave as halves.
- Place prepared pears in a bowl of cool water with a splash of lemon juice added to prevent browning while you work.
- Once pears are prepared, bring a pot with the canning liquid of your choice to a boil on the stove (see note on canning liquids).
- Add the pears and cook for 5 minutes, until the pears are fully heated through.
- Pack the pears into canning jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Ladle canning liquid over the top of the fruits maintaining a 1/2 inch headspace.
- De-bubble jars, do any final headspace adjustments, and then cap with 2 part canning lids.
- Process the jars in a water bath canner for 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts. (Recipe is written for a 7-quart canner batch below 1000 feet in elevation, see notes for other batch sizes and elevations.)
- Once the canning time is complete, remove the jars to cool on a towel on the counter. After 24 hours, check seals and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use.
Sealed jars of properly canned pears should maintain peak quality in the pantry at room temperature for 12-18 months.
Batch Size ~ It takes roughly 17 to 18 pounds of whole pears to fill a canner batch of 7 quarts (about 2 1/2 pound per quart). For pints, estimate 10 to 11 pounds of pears for a 9-pint canner batch (or about 1 1/4 pounds pears per pint).
Canning Syrup for Pears ~ Pears may be canned in a variety of liquids, including plain water or fruit juices (apple, pear, or grape). Most people choose to can pears in a syrup of some kind, and I'd recommend canning in an extra light syrup that uses 10 1/2 cups water and 1 1/4 cup sugar for a 7-quart canner batch. For a table with various syrups from extra light to heavy, and various batch sizes (quart and pint) please see this canning syrup table.
Adjusting for Altitude ~ The standard processing times for canning pears is 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts if under 1,000 feet in elevation.
For 1,000 to 3,000 feet times are 25 min for pints and 30 min for quarts.
For 3,000 to 6,000 feet times are 30 min for pints and 35 min for quarts.
Above 6,000 feet times are 35 min for pints and 40 min for quarts.
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