Sunday, October 9, 2011

Spiced Pickled Pears

Yes, you did read the title of this post correctly...we're talking pickled fruit here.  If you have never tried pickled fruit, you are missing out.  It is sweet like fruit in syrup would be but with a slight vinegary bite.  I think pickled fruit is more versatile than fruit in syrup because it goes where syrupy fruits dare not tread.  Still plenty sweet, pickled fruits are great as a snack or with dessert, but they are equally at home with meats and savory concoctions. 

This weekend I finally came upon pears at the market.  I have been wanting some pears since fall hit, but had yet to find any.  Pears are not an abundant crop in North Carolina (where I live), and most of the ones you find are from trees in backyards.  The tree in my parents' yard did not produce this year, and it seemed I would go the next year without pears in the pantry.  Then, walking among the vendors on Saturday, I spied some small pears, perfect for canning.  They were ugly, but don't you think ugly fruits and vegetables are often the best!?  I quickly snatched up four dozen and took them home to pickle.

I began by peeling and halving the pears. As I did so, I placed them in a bowl of cool water treated with Fruit Fresh to keep them from turning brown.  I then halved and cored each pear and cut away any bad spots. 

When my pears were almost ready, I put a mixture of water, sugar, vinegar and spices in a large pot and brought it to a boil.  Once boiling, the drained pears went in to cook 5 minutes or so until they were just beginning to soften a bit. 

The pears were then carefully packed into pint jars with the cut sides down.  Take care to pack them fairly tight while still leaving room for expansion in the jar.  This will reduce the tendency of the fruit to float as well as prevent any seepage from occuring.  I like to put a cinnamon stick and just a couple of cloves in each jar for looks as well as extra spice, but you don't have to do this if you prefer jars with just pears.   

There were several left that wouldn't fit in the jars, so we ate those as a snack last evening.  I can't wait to open a jar this week to eat alongside a pork tenderloin we are going to have.  They will also make a tasty and unique addition to the Thanksgiving table next month.

This recipe is slightly adapted from So Easy to Preserve.  I increased the quantities of ingredients to fit the amount of pears I had on hand.  I also added ground ginger rather than fresh since that was what was available.  In addition, I put the spices directly in the pot with the pears rather than placing them in a spice bag.  When scooping out the pickling liquid, I took care not to get too many spices in the jars.  I then added a cinnamon stick to each.

Spiced Pickled Pears
makes 6 pint jars

6 pounds slightly ripe pears, peeled, halved, cored (about 4 doz small pears)
3 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 plus 2 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 tbsp whole cloves
10 small cinnamon sticks

Prepare the pears and place them in a bowl of cool water treated with Fruit Fresh or lemon juice.  Combine the sugar, vinegar, water and spices in a large nonreactive pot and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar.  Drain the water from the pears.  Place the pears in the pot and boil gently approximately 5 minutes until the pears are beginning to soften a bit. 

Pack the pears, cut side down, into hot sterilized pint jars.  Add a cinnamon stick to each jar, if desired.  Ladle hot pickling liquid into each jar leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles from the jars.  Adjust headspace, wipe the rims of the jars, and place sterlized lids and rings on each jar.  Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Turn the stove off.  Leave jars in canning pot 5 minutes after processing time.  Remove jars to a towel to rest 24 hours.  Check seals and store after 24 hours.


  1. How would you remove air bubbles from the pears when placing them cut side down? wouldnt an air bubble get caught in the cored out section of the pear? Great recipe by the way!

  2. Actually, when you pack them cut side down, they fit together better and mold to one another more since they are a bit softer after being heated. When you run your bubble remover or chopstick around the sides of the jars (pushing in a bit as you should when removing bubbles), the contents of the jar will move around enough to release any air. I understand what you are saying, but you will end up with less air bubbles packing like this than you would if you packed them in a random fashion. Thanks, by the way, for stopping by. Hope you enjoy the recipe.

  3. Nice recipe. I'm going to try it. Your processing times and method of canning are great. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Does it matter if the pears are already soft or is it better to have more firm pears?

  5. It helps if the pears are firmer as they will soften during processing. Starting with a soft pear will most likely result in a mushy end product. I use pears from a backyard tree, and they are very firm even when ripe.

  6. Thanks for posting this! I was looking for a recipe to share on my blog I am working on. It is based on my great-grandmother's diary from 1936. I referenced your recipe & linked back to this page. I hope you don't mind.

  7. when I think of anything pickey, I think of stuff that taste sour and tart like dill pickles. The name of yours is spiced pickled. what are the diffenece except the spices? they are not sour, correct, and are they firm and cruchy? I was looking for some pickle pear recipes sence we have aboundent crop this year.

    1. They are sweet with a little tang, I just tried the recipe last month, very good

    2. They are sweet with a little tang, I just tried the recipe last month, very good

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  9. How do you peel your pears? I recently got 4 grocery sacks (the old-fashioned paper kind!) full of pears, most of which are fist size (at least) and very firm. They're also NOT nice and smooth and 'pear-shaped' like the ones in the grocery store. Do you use a vegetable peeler or just a paring knife??