Pears are one of those fruits that are absolutely fantastic when they are at the peak of ripeness. However, that peak lasts for such a short period of time. Too early and they are rock hard and sometimes a little bitter. Too late and they get mushy in a hurry.
Whether you buy pears in bulk or get them off your own tree, it is difficult to eat them all at the peak of ripeness. Canning is a great way to preserve that peak flavor and texture for many months to come.
Choosing the Right Pears For Canning
When it comes to canning pears, choosing the right variety is crucial. Some popular canning pear varieties include Bartlett, Bosc, and Anjou. These varieties are known for their sweet and juicy flesh, making them ideal for canning. Select pears that are ripe but not overly soft, as they should hold their shape during the canning process.
Can Pears With Sugar or Without Sugar?
You can preserve your pears with or without sugar depending on your preferences. Personally, I love the natural flavor of the pears without sugar and find this technique to be a little easier. If you decide to make a light syrup, use 1 1/2 cups of honey per each 4 cups of water for the syrup. Otherwise you can just use boiling water to cover the pears.
How To Can Pears
Preparing Pears For Canning
Wash and peel: Start by washing your pears thoroughly. Use a vegetable peeler or a paring knife to peel the skin from the pears. You can also leave the skins on if you prefer or don’t want to take the time to peel them.
Core and slice: Cut the pears in half and remove the core and seeds. You can also slice them into quarters or halves, depending on your preference. To prevent browning, immediately place the pear slices in a bowl of water containing lemon juice. This will preserve the pears’ natural color. I roughly use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per quart (32oz) or water.
Bring Water to Boil: Bring both the water bath canner and the water to cover the pears in the jars to a boil. If you choose to use a light syrup to cover the pears, use 1 1/2 cups of honey per every 4 cups of water. You can also just use plain water to preserve the natural sweetness and flavor of the pears!
Fill the Jars
- Pack the pears into hot sterilized jars leaving headspace. Cover pears with boiling water or syrup solution leaving ½-inch headspace
- Use a non-metallic tool to remove air bubbles by sliding it between the jar’s interior side and the pears.
- Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth to remove any syrup or debris, ensuring a proper seal.
- Center a sterilized lid on each jar, then screw the metal band on until it’s fingertip-tight. Avoid overtightening, as air should be able to escape during processing.
Process the Jars
Once your jars are filled and sealed, it’s time to process them in a water bath canner. This step is vital for killing any bacteria, molds, or yeasts that could cause spoilage. The processing time varies depending on your altitude, so consult your local guidelines for precise times. As a general rule of thumb:
For sea level to 1,000 feet in altitude, process pints and quarts for 20 minutes.
For 1,001 to 3,000 feet, process pints and quarts for 25 minutes.
For 3,001 to 6,000 feet, process pints and quarts for 30 minutes.
For 6,001 to 8,000 feet, process pints and quarts for 35 minutes.
After processing, use your jar lifter to remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel or cooling rack. Allow them to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. As the jars cool, you’ll hear the satisfying “ping” of the lids sealing, indicating that the canning process was successful.
Label and Store
Once the jars are cool, it’s essential to check that the lids have sealed correctly. Press down on the center of each lid; it should not flex or make a popping sound. If it does, the jar did not seal properly and should be refrigerated and consumed within a few weeks. Another test is to grab the jar by the lid gently. The lid should not budge.
For the sealed jars, remove the metal bands and wipe the jars clean. Label each jar with the contents and the date of canning using canning labels or a permanent marker. You can store your jars without the metal rings.
Store your canned pears in a cool, dark, and dry place, such as a pantry or cellar. Canned pears typically have a shelf life of up to 1-2 years, though they are often safe to eat beyond that. However, for the best quality, it’s recommended to consume them within the first year.
How to Customize Pears
Add a bit of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, or vanilla to your pears to give them a little extra flavor that is great especially during the holiday season and winter months!
Ways to Enjoy Canned Pears
Canned pears are a versatile ingredient that can be used in various recipes. Here are some delicious ways to enjoy your homemade canned pears:
Desserts: Canned pears make a delightful addition to pies, crisps, cobblers, and tarts. They can also be used to create a classic poached pear dessert.
Breakfast: Add canned pears to your morning cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt for a sweet and nutritious start to the day.
Salads: Slice or dice canned pears and toss them into your salads for a burst of sweetness and juiciness. They pair wonderfully with greens, nuts, and cheese.
Sides: Serve canned pears as a side dish alongside roasted meats or grilled chicken for a sweet contrast to savory flavors.
Appetizers: Create appetizers with canned pears by pairing them with cheese, crackers, and honey for a delightful charcuterie board.
Smoothies: Blend canned pears with yogurt, honey, and a touch of cinnamon for a creamy and nutritious smoothie.