Pears are an excellent canning fruit. They make it through the canning process better than many other fruits because more of the color, flavor, and texture remain intact. Although pears are most often canned in simple syrup, it is quite safe to can them in juice or even plain water. The canning liquid is a flavoring element, not a safety consideration.
There are two basic ways to safely can pears: the hot pack method and the raw pack method. Although it requires fewer steps, the raw pack method results in an inferior product. The fruit tends to shrink during processing and float up out of the canning liquid. The pieces that float to the top tend to discolor, which can be unappealing. This hot pack method, however, reduces the likelihood of floating fruit and overall discoloration.
Choose firm, unblemished pears for this type of canning. It is best to use pears that are slightly underripe, though not completely hard. Pears that are too ripe are more likely to float in the jars and contain less acid. The pear's natural acidity, not the canning liquid, helps to preserve them.
- 16 cups water
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (white distilled; or lemon juice)
- 8 pounds pears (washed)
- 8 to 10 cups white grape juice (or apple juice, sugar syrup)
- Optional: 4 to 5 cups water (if using apple juice)
Note: while there are multiple steps to this canning method, it is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and assembly.
Prepare the Fruit
Gather the ingredients.
In a non-reactive bowl, prepare acidulated water by combining the water with the white vinegar or lemon juice.
Slice off the stems of the pears as well as a thin slice from the bottom of each fruit. Peel the pears using a vegetable peeler. Cut them in half and use a paring knife to slice out the seeds and cores. Add the fruit to the acidulated water as you work.
Chop the soaked pears into slices or chunks, depending on your preference. Return them to the acidulated water.
Drain the pears in a colander.
In a large pot, bring the syrup, juice, or water to a boil.
Add the chunks or slices of pears and simmer for 2 minutes.
Can the Fruit
Ensure the canning jars are clean and free of cracks and chips. They also need to be hot: Fill each with very hot water, emptying them just before filling with the fruit.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears from the simmering liquid. Fill the jars with the fruit, leaving 3/4-inch headspace between the top of the pears and the rims of the jars. Pack the fruit tightly to reduce floating fruit, but avoid smashing the pieces.
Ladle the hot liquid over the fruit, leaving 1/2-inch headspace in each jar. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper or cloth towel. Secure the canning lids.
Process the jars in a boiling water bath: 20 minutes for pint jars, 25 minutes for quart jars.
Once the jars have cooled, store the canned pears until ready to use. Enjoy!
- Very small pears such as Seckels may be canned whole or in halves.
- White grape juice is preferred because of its relatively neutral color and flavor.
- When using any other juice, such as apple, dilute it with an equal part of water so that the juice's flavor doesn't overpower the pears.
- Canning jars need to be sterilized when canning pears.
- Any food left on a jar rim could prevent a good seal, so ensure they're impeccably clean.
- Depending on where you live, you may need to adjust the canning time for your altitude.