Preserved Pears

Bartlett pears, canned in a light simple syrup with star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon.

  • Yield: Makes 3 to 4 quarts


  • 5-6 pounds Bartlett pears
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon

Special equipment:

  • 3 to 4 quart-sized canning jars or 6-8 pint jars


If you plan on canning the pears for shelf (non-refrigerated storage), sterilize your jars by either placing them in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes, or in boiling water for 10 minutes. Once the jars are filled with pears, you'll want to process in a water bath as well. You'll need a large (12-quart if you are using pint jars, 16-quart if you are using quart jars) stock pot with a rack at the bottom (we use a steaming rack) so that the jars don't touch the bottom of the pan. Fill three quarters of the way with hot water and put on the stove to bring to a boil. While the water is heating proceed with the recipe. If you plan to freeze or refrigerate your canned pears you can skip this step.

1 Peel, core, and quarter the pears. Add them to a bowl of cold water that has been acidified with lemon juice or citric acid (can use the contents of a vitamin C capsule), to help prevent discoloration of the pears from oxidation.

2 In a large (5 or 6 quart) pot, add the sugar, water, and spices. Bring to a boil. Transfer the pear quarters from their lemon solution to the boiling sugar water. Let come to a boil again, cook for 5 minutes.

3 Pack your canning jars with the pears. Pour the remaining syrup over the pears to cover, leaving 1/2-inch of headroom from the tops of the jars. Wipe the rims with a paper towel. Put on the lids.

4 If canning for long term shelf storage (up to a year), place in a water bath for 20 minutes.

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  • Mandy Houston

    If I use apple juice as the liquid, do I use some sugar syrup with that or just the apple juice

  • Mandy

    Hi I have conference pairs will Kilner jars be ok first time for me

  • Jennifer

    Would a pineapple pear work instead of a Bartlett? I am new to fruit trees and canning. Trying to get all this figured out.

  • oralia

    I have never canned fruit before , I have quite a few fruit trees and would really love to learn how to do this, but , I only have glass coffee jars,can I use these?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hello Oralia, I’m unfamiliar with those jars. For canning typically you need a sturdy jar made with tempered glass, which is why we tend to use jars made especially for this purpose. You’ll also want canning lids.

    • Kellie

      Yes you can. If you don’t have a metal lid, place a food safe cellophane cover on before you screw down your lids. And then put in the water bath.

  • Cindy Sandberg

    I have also added green food coloring to the light syrup, so my Dad and daughter could enjoy GREEN pears on their St. Patrick’s Day birthdays. It was always a delight to bite into those fresh tasting pears in the middle of winter!

  • Ellen

    Thanks for the quick reply. Yes, Kind of like homemade cranberry sauce is what I was thinking.

  • Ellen

    Do you have any idea how long they will deep if not canned but dept refrigerated?

  • Crystal Bowles

    This is a fabulous recipe – I have modified to include figs (processing time increased to 45min). Also, the light syrup is absolutely fabulous and my husband and I have made some wonderful pear/fig and bourbon drinks. Yum! Thank you!

  • Faith Mackenzie

    I lived In France for 16 years and my old French neighbour told me how to make an air tight jar of anything….rinse jars out with water, pop them into a microwave for 5 minutes or so on high to sterilise, put the jam or boiled fruit or apple sauce straight Into the very hot jars from the microwave, fill right up to the very tippy top, tightly screw on a top and turn the jar upside down and leave to cool. This method forms a very air tight seal. I just opened (with difficulty as the seal was so good) some jam I made in 2012 ( at the moment we are half way through 2014) using this method and the jam was PERFECT! So much easier than the fads lemon boiling jars etc.
    Hope this helps!

  • Steeny

    My mother in law says to used cloves and cinnamon to can pears. I had a tree full of Kiefers that I ripe right now.
    I can’t find whole cardomon or anise anywhere in this small town. Can I use ground cardomon? or anise seed or will they make the water cloudy?

    • Elise

      You can use cloves and or cinnamon sticks. I would only use the whole spices, not ground. Ground spices will make the water cloudy.

  • Justin

    Will the canned or jared pears ferment? And if so how long would it take before it does? Like what’s the shelf live of canned fruit before its bad? Or are they good for several years if canned right and no outside air gets in?

    • Elise

      I’ve never had an issue with fermentation with jared fruit the way I’ve prepared these pears. As for the shelf life of canned fruit, as with practically any canned food, you should eat it within a year of canning. With pears canned in a light sugar syrup, I’m guessing not even that long, as sugar is a preservative and the more sugar (as in a jam or jelly), the longer the shelf life.

  • Cheryl Bromley

    Would it be possible to use summer fruit juice or squash instead of suger and water
    Thank you Cheryl

    • Elise

      Yes on the summer fruit juice, though sugar water may help the pears from discoloring. As for squash, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by using squash.

  • Jen

    I found this recipe but omitted the spices, just used the sugar and water with pears from the lemon juice mixture. They turned out great. Thanks for posting this!

  • Lamirose

    Hello, thank you for this recipe…I would like to store them for a long time. I don’t understand the last step “If canning for long term shelf storage (up to a year), place in a water bath for 20 minutes.”
    You mean that we have to put the jars (opened or closed?) in cold water bath for 20 min ?
    Thank you

    • Elise

      Hi Lamirose, if you Google “water bath canning” you’ll find out how to do this. It’s a standard canning procedure.

  • julia

    I would like to store pears through winter, sorry do not understand, you said if you want to store them boil the cans with the pears, but then you said put in cold water, help!!!!!

    • Elise

      You put the pears in acidified cold water when you start the recipe, as you are peeling them, so they don’t discolor on you.

  • Kendra

    Hi Elise,

    Just a follow up, I tried the pears I canned a few weeks ago with the crunch I was worried about…happy to report they are delicious and not too hard at all. :) On another note, I made the mistake of canning late last night and fell asleep when my pears were processing–twenty minutes turned into two and a half hours and overly soft pears. I was heartbroken! Any suggestions on what I can use these in? Thanks. :)


    • Ray Powell

      Pear butter. Just like apple sauce, but only thicker.

  • Kendra

    Hi Elise,

    Thanks for the feedback. Another question…I’m getting ready to do another batch of the canned pears and am wondering if you will provide the measurements to incorporate vanilla/nutmeg instead of the spices previously used? I’m looking forward to some variety. Any help will be appreciated. :)

    Hi Kendra, Sure! I’m guessing on this though. I would take one vanilla bean, cut into pieces (as many pieces as you have jars that you are making), make sure when you add the syrup to the jars that you portion out the pieces of vanilla bean. As for nutmeg, I would grate about 1/4 teaspoon’s worth of it into the sugar syrup. If you are using vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean, just add a couple teaspoons to the sugar syrup. ~Elise

  • Kendra

    Hi Elise,

    I just canned some pears using this recipe and they look wonderful! I do have a few questions to ask. 1) After cooking my pears for the five minutes, they were still very firm, almost with a crunch. Is it possible they were not ripe? They have been falling off my tree left and right with a slight indent when pushed. Is this ok and will it affect the final product once canned? 2) My liquid is pretty clear but how is yours absolutely colorless? They look beautiful! Thanks for any info.


    P.S. Your pear butter is absolutely delicious! Made that recipe a few days ago. :)

    Good question. I guess you won’t know until you bite into one to see if it was ripe enough to begin with. As for the clarity of the liquid, I think if you let them settle for a bit, the liquid should clarify somewhat. ~Elise

  • katrina

    Oh, how beautiful! We had no pears this year, due to the drought, and that is a sad situation. I love your choice of spices – I’ve used lemon verbena leaves in the past, but never star anise or cardomom.

  • Brooke

    I love canned pears, this looks great! Is there a way to can pears or any fruit “in their own juice”, or use less sugar? THAT would really make it the PERFECT canned Pears ever! Let alone any other canned fruit it could be done with.

    Hi Brooke, you may can the pears in plain water but the texture will soften and the color of the pears will lighten over time. A little bit of sugar will help the fruit retain its color, flavor, and shape. I’ve used a cup of sugar for every quart of water in this recipe, and I think the result is lovely and not too sweet. You could take it down to 1/3 cup of sugar for every quart of water if you want. ~Elise

  • marion dansen

    Good morning Elise,

    I just read your delicious pear recipe.
    I tried to find out how to calculate the American measures into the “Dutch” standards. Get confused with the British measures.
    Can you help me?

    Kind regards,

    Hi Marion, there is a measurement converter in the left column on all of the recipe pages that should help with conversions. ~Elise

  • Leslie

    Do you take out the spices before you can the pears? Or put them in cheesecloth? This recipe looks lovely AND easy!

    No, I just put the spices in with the pears in the jars (after they have cooked with the pears). That way they continue to spice the pears as they store. ~Elise

    • Louise

      You only put 2 star anise and 1 cinnamon and cardamom, which jar gets the spices?

  • Debora Giddings

    A couple of years ago we had more pears than we knew what to do with, pear bread, pear preserves, and canned pears. Our favorite came from an old recipe my mother did in the winter when we were childred. She would melt a package of candy red-hots with a tablespoon or two of water and cook Granny Smith apples in the melted candy. We tried this with the pears and they were wonderful. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  • Kalyn

    This bring back memories from childhood for me. My mom always “bottled” fruit and we’d eat it all winter long. Some of the fruits I didn’t much care for (bottled apricots, ew) but I loved the pears. She would often serve them with a scoop of cottage cheese nestled in the pear half, about as fancy as it got at our house back in those days!

    Hi Kalyn, I love canned pears or peaches with cottage cheese! My dad used to make this for us when we were kids too. ~Elise