How To Can Pears (Halved or Sliced)

how to can pears
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It’s pear season! And boy have I had more than I can handle. Anyone want to volunteer to come over and help me cut and peel pears?


Several days ago, a friend of mine gave me a call and told me that her neighbor has three or four pear trees that are loaded this year, and the pears are just falling and rotting on the ground. Her neighbor told her she is more than welcome to come and get as many as she wants, so she thought I might be interested in helping myself as well.

I happily paid her a visit, and filled several laundry baskets and plastic bags full of all the pears I could fit in my car. Some were spoiled ones I’d cleaned up out of their yard. I figured it would help them mow and my chickens would be more than happy to indulge in the rotten fruit.

Many of the pears were still green, but I knew I’d better pick them before the wasps got a hold of them. There were already many of them enjoying the ripe fruits from the tree, so we did our best to avoid a sting while we picked. After a few days of sitting, the green pears would be just right for canning.

One thing you must accept when picking backyard fruit is that there will most certainly be blemishes and bugs to deal with. But you know what? That’s okay! Imperfections only mean that it’s actually REAL food, and if a worm is in it that’s a good sign that it’s safe for you to eat as well.

Anyways, my kids love sliced pears so I try to can as much as possible this time of year. I’m warning you, canning pears takes a lot of prep work, but you’ll be glad you did it.

How To Can Pears

I use the raw pack method. It’s easiest, ’cause you don’t have to cook the pears first.

For this project you’ll need:

  • a bunch of pears
  • sugar
  • lemon juice (or Fruit Fresh)
  • canning jars
  • canning lids
  • canning tools: a jar lifter, a lid lifter, and a funnel.
  • a water bath canner
  • pots and large bowls
  • knife
  • peeler and melon scooper, optional

how to can pears

First, wash your pears. Yes, even if they haven’t been sprayed.

how to can pears

Get your supplies ready. I like to use either a potato peeler or a knife to cut the pears, and a melon scooper to remove deep bruises and the hard centers.

Pears will start to turn brown after sitting out for a while, so it’s best to treat them as you go. I use a big bowl of cold water (about 2 quarts full) and add 1/2 cup of lemon juice. You can also use a product called Fruit Fresh, if you prefer. I like whatever’s cheapest.

how to can pears

Peel the pears. Sometimes I cut the pear and then peel it with a knife. Sometimes I peel it and then cut it. Truly, it doesn’t matter either way.

**You can save the peels and cores (those without insect damage or bad spots) to use to make pear jelly!

how to can pears


Just be careful not to peel your fingertip!

Band-aid, please!

how to can pears

Remove any bad spots from the fruit.

how to can pears

Cut the pears in half, and use a melon scooper to remove the hard part in the middle. Or just cut it into slices and use a knife to cut out the middle. I like to try to keep my pears in halves when possible.

how to can pears

Oh look, a worm! You thought I was joking, didn’t you?

Like I said, a worm is a good sign, people. It means the fruit is safe to eat. It’s the pears that insects won’t touch that you need to be worried about!

Just be sure to thoroughly check the fruit for holes as you are cutting. If you find a hole or a bad spot, cut through it to make sure there aren’t any critters still hiding in there.

how to can pears

Now, drop the peeled, cut pears into the lemon water to prevent darkening.

how to can pears

Continue slicing pears until you have enough to fill a few jars.

I noted that it took 5-6 small to medium pears per quart jar. Keep in mind that since these were organic pears, they had damage that had to be cut away, so I may have only actually used a fraction of a whole pear. If you are using store-bought pears, I would guess it would take about three pears to fill a quart jar, give or take.

how to can pears

In the meantime, make sure you have some wide mouth quart jars cleaned, sanitized and HOT. The easiest way to do this is to run them through the dishwasher.

You can also wash them well by hand, and then submerge the jars into a large pot of boiling water to keep hot and sanitized. Sometimes I will also put clean jars into a hot oven (set at around 250* then turn off) and let them sit in there to keep hot until I’m ready to use.

how to can pears

Allow the pears to drain while you get your other supplies ready.

how to can pears

Now let’s get our stove-top stuff in order. You’ll need to make a syrup for the pears, and you’ll need to simmer the lids to sanitize.

For the lids, bring a small pot of water to a simmer, being sure not to bring to a boil. Add the lids and reduce heat to continue a steady simmer. Allow the lids to simmer for five minutes before using, and keep hot until ready to use.

In a large pot, make a syrup to fill the jars with. You can use plain water to can your pears, but they will not have much flavor. I can mine in an extra light syrup.

Here are the measurements to make enough syrup to fill 5 quart jars-

  • Extra Light Syrup- 11 cups water, 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • Light Syrup- 10 1/2 cups water, 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • Medium Syrup- 10 cups water, 6 1/2 cups sugar
  • Heavy Syrup- 8 1/2 cups water, 8 1/2 cups sugar

Bring your syrup (or water) to a boil, reducing heat to continue a steady simmer.

how to can pears

Now you’re ready to pack your jars. Get them out one at a time so they stay hot. If your jars aren’t hot when you pack them, they may crack from the heat of the syrup.

You can use a funnel to pack the pears into the jars, or you can do it by hand. Gently tap the jar on the counter to settle the pears so that you can cram as much as possible into each jar. Fill to within 1/2 in from the rim of the jar.

how to can pears

With a funnel in place, ladle the hot syrup over the pears, filling to within 1/2″ from rim (1/2″ headspace).

how to can pears

Using a wooden or plastic handle, move the pears around to release any air bubbles. Tapping the jar on the counter also helps.

how to can pears

Use a wet rag to wipe the rim of the jar clean. I usually dip my finger in the simmering lid water and run it over the rim after wiping, just to make sure there isn’t anything sticky still there.

how to can pears

Now you’re ready to put the lid on. Using a lid lifter, retrieve a hot lid from the simmering water,

how to can pears

and place the lid on the jar.

how to can pears

Now screw on a clean ring to tighten down the lid.

how to can pears

Once all of your jars are packed and sealed, place them in a water bath canner. Fill the canner with enough water to cover the jars with 1-2″ of water. Put the lid on the canner, and bring to a steady rolling boil.

how to can pears

Continue to process the jars at a steady boil for 30 minutes. (If you’re using pints process for 25 min.)

how to can pears

Using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the water bath canner, and allow to cool on a rack overnight. After about 24 hours, remove the rings from the jars and try to pry the lids off with your fingers. If they do not come off, they’ve sealed and are safe to store.

If a lid does come off you can either put the jar in the fridge to be eaten soon, or if you really want to store it up, you can dump the pears out and can them over again in a new jar, with a new lid.

how to can pears

The pears might look pinkish after being canned. That’s normal.

Don’t forget to write the date and contents on the lid with a sharpie. Canned pears will stay fresh for up to a year before their taste, texture and nutrients begin to diminish. That is not to say they won’t be safe to eat, they just won’t be as good as they were within that first year.

Before putting your jars up, remove the rings from the lids. Over time, these can corrode and become hard to remove, so it’s best to store jars without them.

If at any point a lid unseals on its own (not likely to happen, but possible), the contents have been compromised and are no longer safe to eat.

Here’s the full recipe from Jackie Clay’s Growing and Canning Your Own Food:

How To Can Pears- Raw Pack

Rinse pears, drain, and cut in half. Remove the core and peel. Treat to prevent darkening. Make a light or medium syrup, as you wish. Keep syrup hot. Drain pears and pack into hot jars. Shake jar gently to settle pears as you pack, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Ladle hot syrup over pears, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim of jar clean; place hot, previously-simmered lid on jar, and screw down ring firmly tight. Process pints for 25 min. and quarts for 30 min. in a boiling water bath canner.

If you’re new to canning pears, and have any questions, or if you have a tip to add, please don’t hesitate to say so! Happy canning!

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About Kendra 1035 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.


  1. Is there a difference in canning winter pears?
    The pears are really hard right now.
    Should we store them until they are softer?
    Thanks, Nancy

    • Lay the pears on a flat surface such a card table covered with a towel or rug and let ripen. Then you can can them. Do not can them when hard, they will stay hard in the jar. And don’t let them get over ripe, they will get mushy.

  2. Boy you sure told it just like home, my pears look just like yours, insects, worms and all. Its pear time in South Dakota and canning went well. I too have noticed when I use fruit fresh they taste different, more tart. I used the amount they said, well they taste good, but I labeled them Tarted Pears. I will stick with lemon juice from now on. Thanks from a Little Old Granny.

  3. I canned canned some sweet picked pears. There is vinegar, sugar, water, spices, pears, and a small piece of ghost peppers. After getting it all done I realized I didn’t add any lemon juice or citric acid. Is the only thing that it will do will darken the pears or should I pot the tops add some juice and the reseal. I don’t mind if the darken.

    • You only use the lemon juice in the bowl of cold water you soak the peel and cored pears in, as you prepare the fruit. All you need to can pears, is pears and water, or syrup. I prefer using syrup, as it sets the fruit and makes it a bit tastier and more palatable.

  4. Kind of a silly question here.A while back I used some fruit fresh on my pears and after words I had a few left that wouldn’t fit in my jars so I ate them. Well they had a weird taste. Maybe I should have rinsed them off maybe before cooking them in the syrup I made?

      • Thanks for responding so quickly. No it doesn’t say fact it says add 1 tsp per cup liquid or to sprinkle 1/2 tsp on 1 cup produce ,and/or mix 2 tbls spns with 3 tbls water and toss w/4cups produce. Or maybe they tasted weird because they were Anjou.Never had before. Stick w/ lemon juice?

    • KI…For keeping pears from darkening… use a gallon of water and put in 1 Tablespoon each of vinegar and salt. This works perfect. I did not drain my pears, I just lifted the pears from this solution and packed directly in jars. They are as white as can be. They have no funny or off taste.

  5. Thank you so much. Canning today, and can’t wait to see the results. Love the step by step directions. My first time canning pears.

  6. Am new to canning pears but not to canning. Am wondering how much spice to add to the syrup when making spiced pears. Are the spices whole or ground? Am eager to get started on the free pears and scrounged jars since I filled mine with tomatoes and pickled red beets!

  7. Not about Pears- but chicken noodle soup- pressure canned chicken breast, carrots, celry and fronzen dumplings ( MS Smith’s) I now was told not to eat the soup because of the flour ie: bacteria? I put the jars in hte refrig within 48 hrs- what is your thought? pleas email me- [email protected]

  8. Kendra, The minted pears make wonderful gift pears for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Cover the lids with gingham and a ribbon, the jars already look colorful enough with the red or green food coloring in the minted pears. And this uses two resources that grow abundantly in my yard. Pears and fresh mint. The spearmint is the best.

    I also can apple pie filling and give that. Only problem, the free apple trees available to me are the tiny little apples so it takes me FOREVER to peel and slice enough before I faint. This year I’m going to watch for granny smiths that are on sale in the fruit section.

  9. Kendra,

    I found your web site and loved reading the conversations. I have also canned fruit in just plain water and they turned out just fine. On another site I saw a recipe for the sugar free sweetener’s like Stevia can’t remember the site though. I liked the mint recipe and also the clove suggestion. About 3 years ago I was given the opportunity to get free pears just for picking them and told to keep their number for future years but I lost it. Since then I reconnected and picked about 1-2 bushels with my sister and niece. This year I am planning on canning them instead of freezing them. Plan to try the cloves and maybe the mint without sugar because diabetics can have them that way too if you want them sweetened I figured you could add sugar later when you eat them if needed. It has been 30-35 years since I have canned so I hope all goes well this time as I can’t do heavy lifting. Plan to can on an Apartment size propane gas stove we bought used since I have a smooth top cracked once and replaced and don’t want to do it again. Also can use it as a back up for cooking if our power goes out since our home is all electric. Can keep the heat out of the kitchen that way too with it outside.

    About the glass stove top the problem would be the top could crack because of the weight of the pan and also the base of the pan being larger around than the burner causes uneven heating especially if you don’t have a totally flat bottom canner. What can happen if you use one with a slightly concave bottom the pan can suction itself to the burner and when you try to remove it, it can shatter or crack the ceramic or glass top. That will cost you over $200 or more to replace it if you do it yourself, depending on your brand of stove.

    Plan to try canning Venison this year if we get any. I think I will need a pressure canner for that though.

    Thank you for this site and Happy canning to all this year.

  10. I found your site after two of my children and I were discussing the difference between Queen Anne’s Lace and Conium Maculatum, and I couldn’t help but stay. Our four kids are years older than yours (25, 23, 20, and 17) but I love what you’re doing! My 17 year old just asked about canning and though I haven’t done it in years, after reading this I’m inspired to can some pears this week! Thanks and I can’t wait to go back and read through more of your blog. πŸ™‚ Best wishes ~from PA

  11. This is my first summer of canning. I started off with pickles, and quickly realized that I was way overcooking the pickles in the hot water bath. I was starting out with “hot” water, and bringing them to a boil (which would take 15 to 20 minutes) and then boiling them for the recommended 15-20 minutes. It was cooking the pickles to a much. I thought the glass top stove was the issue as it was taking so long to bring the water back to a boil. Any ideas why this is happening because I’m going to be canning pears with your instructions tomorrow and I’m afraid I’ll cook the pears to much if I boil the jars for 30 minutes.

    • Shelley,

      You should bring the water in the canner up to a full rolling boil before putting the jars in. It should only take a minute to bring it back to a boil after the jars have been put in. My large water bath canner takes FOREVER to bring to a full boil on the flat top stove, ’cause the bottom of the canner isn’t completely flat. If you have a large stock pot, that might work better for water bath canning on a flat top. Good luck!

      • Hello!
        I found your site while looking up new recipes for pears as we have an abundance this year (along with apples). My canner is currently full of seven quarts of mint pears made with mint I grew. The kitchen smells wonderful!

        I have been canning for over 30 years and some of my information may be out dated. I was taught that hot packed food goes into the water bath canner water at 180 degrees and is brought up from there to a boil and raw packed foods are placed into the water bath canner with the water at 140 degrees as this gives the food a chance to heat up also as the canner water is brought up to a boil, even though both situations call for the food to be covered with boiling water/syrup. It is also a safety issue, not that 140 or 180 degree water won’t burn you, but there is less of a risk of jar breakage also.

        If you have some newer source of information I would love to have it, as I too sometimes think my food is a tad bit over cooked. Pears, not so much. Looking forward to serving the minted pears chilled with a chocolate or cinnamon chocolate sauce.

        Happy Canning!

  12. Sorry I missed your blog for a little while. The receipt for the mint pears is:
    2/3 cup water
    1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
    6 cups light syrup
    7 pounds pears – about 20 pears
    Ascorbic acid color keeper
    Heat water and mint leave to boiling – let stand for 5 minutes. Strain discarding leaves
    Make syrup add mint flavored water. Keep hot but do not boil
    Wash peel halve core pears. Place in ascorbic acid. Drain pears add to syrup. Cook covered for 5 minutes
    Pack pears into jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove bubbles wipe rims and adjust lids. Process filled jars boiling water canner for 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts.

    I took a short cut this year: Prepared very light Syrup. Substitute 2/3 cup crème de menthe for the mint leaves and water. If you use white crème de menthe you can add a few drops of green food coloring. I used the green crème de menthe. This year I did not cook the pears per your suggestion to keep their shape.
    I’m finally finished with all the fruit for this season and working on tomatoes.

  13. Thank you for the info! I did can a few pears last year or the year before but was unsure if I remember correctly or not for this year. I do not do much canning & this was very helpful as were the comments. I made 24 quarts yesterday & still have a large stainless steel bowl to do that weren’t quite ripe enough to do yesterday. Mine turned pink & I was wondering what I did wrong. But I re read your post & you said that was okay. Thank goodness because a dozen of those jars are going to a friend who wanted pears but had no time to can them herself & said she wanted me to do hers up so long as I was already doing mine! LOL. Thank You again for the info!

  14. I did pears for the first time last year. We only had enough for 4 quarts. I did 2 quarts with 2 cloves in each. They were the most delicious pears I’ve ever had with just a tiny hint of clove. I think any more than 2 cloves and the flavor might be too strong.

  15. I don’t know if you ended up trying the boiling water dip, Kendra, but my husband and I just tested it out with the Barlett pears we bought this week. The pears were underripe when we got them, and came ripe a day or so ago, so we’re doing beautifully ripe pears. 1 minute was WAY too long, but a brief 10-second or so dip loosened the skin beautifully enough that we were able to rub the skin off by hand. Talk about a time-saver! I hate having to use a peeler on pears–it always seems to be more difficult than apples.

  16. I actually just went through the same exact thing last week. A friend from church has a pear tree that she invited me to pick from. I picked 3 bags full, dropped off one at a friend’s house, and took the other two home. They tasted so good, my kids ate a ton of them. And with the rest I canned (first time ever to can pears). I found a recipe on pinterest to use a honey liquid instead of a sugar liquid.
    This was my first time canning in about 10 years, the last time I canned my mother-in-law helped me can peaches, that’s when my oldest was only 2. Now I have 5 kiddos and I’ve fallen in love with raising my own garden and canning our own food. Next week I’ll be attempting canned vegetable soup (we got a ton of carrots this year).
    I love your site by the way!

  17. Unfortuantly I don’t like cooked fruit.But I do love fresh fruit.I have a pear tree that is giving me way to much delicious pears and I would like have them all winter.I was hoping to find a way to can uncooked fruit.Do you know if that is possible?

  18. Thanks for your help. I’m using the “raw” method on the pears I have to finish. I also cut back the processing time. I’m doing some “mint” pears now using my beautiful WECK bottles. They look nice and my husband said they tasted great (before I processed). We will get the final vote at Christmas!

    This is like having a canning buddy. Thank you.

  19. What a pleasure for you to share this information. I am in the middle of my pears at this moment. I use a steamer canner rather than a water bath. It saves on water and is so much lighter to lift on and off the stove. I have been using it for many years and it works great. I need your help. I would like to have my pears stay more firm…so I am trying a shorter processing time. Any other ideas? I like your idea of the “raw” pack. I will try that it on a batch tomorrow. We have lovely fruit here in Idaho. I’ve finished peaches, nectarines and apricots these past weeks. There is just me and my husband to enjoy all this fruit, but we share with our friends. It is my special Christmas gift. When I’m asked why I can? I say I can because I can! That is not my original saying, but I love it. So glad I found this site. I’m anxious to have any help you can suggest. Thank you.

  20. Thanks for the recipe. I noticed you are canning on a flat glass top stove with the same canner I have. No problems breaking your stove? I’m terrified to try it on my glass top because I’ve heard of stoves breaking and/or fruit not being safe because the burners aren’t large enough for the canner. I’ve been canning on my gas grill’s burner outside. This is my first time doing pears.

    I *think* (because I can’t find a USDA chart for raw pack pears) that at high altitudes the time should be increased to 40 minutes. This is the case for peaches anyway.

    Wish me luck, I just set my first batch into the canner.


  21. MARY,

    I don’t have a canning pot. I am also new to canning. The last two summers I have learned to cann tomatoes, squash, pumkin, cucumbers, etc. This summer I have gotton alot of pears and can’t wait to try canning them. I use a big stainless steel pot with a glass lid. I put a cookie cooling wire rack in bottom of the pot or I use the insert from my pressure canner (have not used it yet), then I add water and let it get hot, then with jar lifter insert jars (with at least 1 inch space between each one. Then I add more water if needed to cover jars 1/2″ above jars. Then I increase the heat so water boils and then I boil them for set amount of time for what I am canning. So far I have not had any problems doing this.

    Good Luck ither way!!


    Thanks for the wonderful pictures & easy to follow instructions. Can’t wait to get started. I live in TX…so got lots of pears this summer. Now off to find how to make pear jelly next. lol.

  22. Just wondering if it’s possible to use a large pot instead of the special canner pot.?..looks about the same size just no rack…many thanks

  23. I loved how much info you gave about canning pears. I agree with everything you say except I like to slice my pears in fourths so you can fit alot more in the jar. My family loves my pears. Next year I will try slipping the skins off as someone mentioned, to see if it is faster.

  24. I have been canning on a glass top stove for years. It works fine for me and the clean-up is easy. Got pears and I’m gonna try canning them without sugar.

  25. I see you are using the water canning pot on a glass stove. My husband saw on the pot that it said not to use with a glass stove. I am wondering why. It appears fine.

  26. I have to put up bushels of pears every year, and I could not do it without my handy dandy apple pealer/slicer. It is a breeze. It peels and slices at the same time, and is very inexpensive. I think it’s less than $20.

  27. Lordy! As soon as I saw that picture of your finger, it sent shivers up my spine. I zested my finger not too long ago and I have a scar from that incident. I never ever want to do that again!

    Thank you for doing these things. I’m such a newbie to canning that I really need posts like this one. πŸ™‚

  28. I agree with the other person who commented about not keeping the jars hot. She didn’t quite explain however that they will in fact crack, but not from putting hot syrup into room-temperature jars. Rather they crack when you put cooler fruit or syrup into boiling temperature jars. Also save yourself the bloodshed and dip your pairs in boiling water briefly just like tomatoes to easily slip off the skins. You can do this before or after you clean the bad spots away and cut them in half.

  29. Deb,
    I am in Ohio too, and I hear that there was the same problem with apples this year. Great to know that I can can without the sugar! I am on a sugar-free diet, so this is great to know.

    I do the raw canning method with apples as well. It makes great apple pie in a jar for Christmas gifts. We will be getting our deer apples from out of state (we live close to the PA border) in the next several weeks to start canning applesauce and apple pie in a jar for gifts.

    Great instructional post!

  30. Nice and well explained. However there is a much simpler way. I wash and rinse jars in hot water and put lids in hot water. Don’t keep them hot just clean. I don’t use any fruit fresh stuff or lemon water. They will be fine without. You DO NOT have to make a syrup for the pears. In 30+ years of canning I never have, only put less than 1/8 cup sugar in jar and fill with water to the neck. I have even canned WITHOUT sugar as it is noit necessary to have a good can of pears and for those who can’t have it, leave it out. They will stay preserved for MANY years without any sugar or sweetener of any kind and they are not sour. I don’t use a lid lifter, actually never heard of one. Pick the lids up by hand and they’ll be fine. Just a much simpler and cheaper way to do them for those with limited funds and the desire to leave out all extra stuff for their pears. Completely free of anything but water. So nice you were able to get free pears. here in my part of Ohio there weren’t very many at all. Frosted the wrong time or something. You are very fortunate. Good luck on them.

  31. Thank you so much for this post! I helped my grandmother can when I was a little girl and then my family stopped canning even before I was a teenager. So…this in a way is all new to me. I am trying and appreciate posts like this that are so helpful and encouraging! πŸ™‚

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