If you are lucky enough to have a pear tree or two, you’re probably looking for ideas on how to preserve your own pears. Fresh pears have a ripening process to go through after they are picked, and have a very short shelf life when ripe. (This is not the case for Asian pears.) I like to think I’m one of the laziest home canning advocates, so I will tell you my secrets to the easy way to get the timing right for preserving pears.
Know your zone
Since I am in zone 5, I know our pear season starts in August. I start watching for pears to fall from the tree in our wild Midwestern thunderstorms. Once I see a pear on the ground (usually while I’m mowing the lawn), I will spend that weekend with the kids picking the unripe pears from the fruit trees. My trees are about 30 feet tall, so I use this picker (Amazon affiliate) which I can extend almost to the top row of my bartlett pears.
Pears Ripen After Harvest
Once the pears are harvested, I let the unripe fruit sit in the fruit basket at room temperature until the next weekend. (If you’re like me, and just can’t wait for the fresh fruit to end up in your lunchbox, you can place a few pears in a paper bag with a ripe banana to speed up the process. The ethylene gas released from the ripe banana will ripen the pears quickly, making them ready for fresh eating.)
Gather Supplies for Canning Pears
Before preservation weekend, I make sure I have all of the tools and ingredients for canning.
- Lemon juice or ascorbic acid
- Cinnamon stick
- Quart jars, pint jar, half-pint jars, jelly jar (makes great gifts)
- Water bath canner (no need for a pressure canner)
- Food mill
- Brown sugar
- Apple juice or white grape juice
Make Time for Processing
Once the pear harvest is ripe (the color change is complete, and the neck of the pear is slightly soft under gentle pressure). Peeling pears and processing pears takes time. Inviting others to help with canning pears can reduce the amount of time in the kitchen, however I prefer not to wait for help. I plan to spend all day preparing them for long-term storage. The best way to store pears for long periods of time includes:
- Pear butter recipe
- Salted caramel pear butter recipe
- Canned pears in light syrup (or medium syrup if you prefer) recipe
- Can use hot pack method or raw pack method (make sure to adjust your processing time in relation to your altitude
- Cinnamon pears in apple juice recipe
- Pear sauce recipe
With proper storage conditions, most pear preserves have a shelf life of 18 months according to the Ball Complete Guide. Make sure to use mature fruit of ideal quality, and place jars that do not properly seal in cold storage (like the refrigerator). Do not use overripe pears, and if you question the quality THROW IT OUT! This is where
“One bad apple can spoil the whole batch.”
Canning pears is a great way to extend storage life, allowing you to enjoy your pear varieties all year long. Check out How to Preserve Your Garden Harvest for more information!