Vanilla Pears: A Home Canned Favorite

pears in syrup 2

This recipe is a safe adaptation of the recipe for canning spiced pears from the Ball Blue Book Of Canning.   When my friend Lisa E and I were making canned pears together she had some vanilla bean pods she needed to use up and she thought it would complement the flavor of the pears, so we used less of the traditional cinnamon and cloves and cooked the pears in a sugar syrup with cut up pieces of vanilla.

The addition of vanilla gives these pears a wonderful delicate taste that can be enjoyed alone, in galettes, or on yogurt (one of my favorite ways to eat them).

In this recipe it is safe to substitute different spices.  If you don’t like cloves, use nutmeg instead.  You can use one spice, two, or  as many as you like for a custom flavor.  I love pears with nutmeg but Lisa prefers hers without.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.*


2 to 3 pounds pears per quart

sugar syrup

cinnamon sticks

whole vanilla beans

whole cloves

canned pears 2


Hot Pack:  Wash pears; drain. Cut into quarters or halves; core and peel. Treat to prevent darkening (highly recommended – I use “Fruit Fresh” which you can find in almost any store that has a canning supplies section). Make a light syrup (we used a 30% syrup last year and a 20% syrup this year. You don’t have to use a syrup at all, but I recommend it because it helps preserve the texture and the color.) Cut up a whole vanilla bean into approximately 3/8″ pieces and add them to your sugar syrup. Splitting the bean down the center will help release the vanilla seeds into the syrup. Keep syrup hot.

Cook pears one layer at a time in syrup for 5 to 6 minutes or until hot throughout. Put a small piece of cinnamon bark (about a 1/2″ to 5/8″ piece) and 3 to 6* cloves in each hot jar. Pack hot pears into hot jars leaving 1/2″ head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two piece caps. Process pints 20 minutes, quarts 25 minutes, in a boiling-water bath canner.

Recipe note:
  Remember that cinnamon and cloves will get stronger the longer they are in the jars so if you like a much spicier flavor, add more, but we used only three cloves per jar so that the vanilla (much more expensive) is the main flavoring. The vanilla accents rather than hides the pear flavor

How to Make Sugar Syrup For Canning
*If you are ever concerned about whether or not a substitution in a canning recipe is safe, always call your local Extension Service to find out.  Generally substitutions are discouraged but with many recipes it is safe to alter spices as they don’t change the PH of the food and account for a very small percentage of the total volume of your ingredients.


20 thoughts on “Vanilla Pears: A Home Canned Favorite

  1. Ellen

    This looks so delicious. I would love to can, but I really need to find some experienced canner to try it with first so that I don’t end up ‘poisoning’ my family.

  2. Mama Papaya

    Hi there. Happened upon your blog while hunting for a spiced pear recipe and just wanted to say thank you. Smells wonderful and will be a lovely treat come the cold months.

  3. Eveonne

    I just canned 20 quarts of pears–got them for $.50/lb at Safeway, so I got a box. The 1st batch, I didn’t peel; 2nd I did, and they looked and packed much nicer. I was so excited to find the recipe I was looking for. Most of them had vinegar added, which I didn’t want. I didn’t have vanilla bean, so I used a bit of pure extract. They smelled wonderful–can’t wait to try them when the snow flies!

  4. Mistress Rebecca

    When I took the peels and cores that I had left over, I decided to make Vanilla Pear Jelly. OH my how delish. I enjoy it every morning with my peanutbutter toast. Oh my….It was a wonderful start to a new love. I added vanilla pods to the the cores and peels. Oh well…I processed it and made delish.

  5. angelina Post author

    Sounds like you didn’t waste any bit of your pears – that’s super thrifty! So glad you’re enjoying your pear projects.

  6. Margaret Thomas

    How do you treat the pears to prevent darkening?
    How do you make the syrup?
    Thanks~ Happy Thanksgiving

  7. angelina Post author

    I’m sorry I didn’t explain about the treatment – I use “Frutifresh” which you can get in any store that carries canning supplies. The instructions for how to use it are on the container. I have instructions for making sugar syrup in another post (and should have that linked in this post – which I will do in just a moment): Thanks for asking these questions!

  8. angelina Post author

    Good question! Your pears should be ripe but firm. They should be aromatic and ready to eat but not at all soft.

  9. kim

    What does “one layer at a time” mean? I saw this in the Ball book as well. It doesn’t make sense to me-do take the pears that have been put in “one layer” and heated through for 5 minutes with enough syrup to put into hot jars and then heat another “layer” in the remaining syrup, repeating the process until you are out of pears or syrup? This isn’t like anything else I’ve canned.

  10. angelina Post author

    I get the confusion. Basically it means you cook the pears in small batches so it doesn’t bring the syrup temperature down too much – this will then mean you have to cook the pears longer to bring the temp back up to simmering and the pears cook too long. You cook the pears in small batches – so you put as many pears as you can fit in the pot in a single layer – then when they’re done cooking you remove those, put them in your hot jars and then you put a new batch of pears in the pot to cook and when they’re cooked you put them in the jars – and keep repeating until all your jars are full.

    I hope that helps!

  11. angelina Post author

    Check the seal – if the seal is good and tight they should be fine. Just shaking a jar of canned pears will create bubbles in the syrup so that in itself is not a sign of spoilage. Bubbles that multiply when the jar has not been touched or moved in days and start to look a little filmy – that’s spoilage. But if your seal was good from the start – it’s highly unlikely you have spoilage.

  12. angelina Post author

    Yes, you fill the jars with the pear and then add the syrup leaving some headspace (whatever I specified in the recipe – I can’t remember off hand).

  13. Don

    I wash my fruit in a vinegar/water bath
    Before I cut it up
    Is there any problem in doing this if I am going to can my fruit

  14. angelina Post author

    I’m so sorry I never answered this question. I thought I’d shut the comments down as I don’t write here much any more, so i haven’t checked in ages. If you still want an answer to this and didn’t find it elsewhere – there’s no problem washing your fruit in vinegar before canning it.

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