Pears in Gingered White Wine


Today I am putting the cart before the horse.  I am going to talk about using our homegrown pears, and then later this week, I will talk about picking them.  Sometimes things just get turned around…

Pears in window

Pears in window

To summarize (full story later), after years of waiting, we finally got a harvest of pears from our two backyard trees.  It was like Christmas in August.


Pears in tree

Pears in tree

When I saw the fruit laden branches early in the summer, I was itching to harvest.  But I didn’t know how to tell when pears are ripe (they should be picked hard–no clues there, nor did I remember the variety to look it up).  So every week from mid-July on, I went outside, pulled down a single pear, tested it’s removal resistance (ripe pears will snap off the branch with a light nudge), set it on the counter top for a couple days, then tasted.  Finally, the last week in August I decided they were ready.

Ripe pear!

Ripe pear!

Inspired by this Denver Post article, I wanted to can some of the pears in a spiced wine syrup.  A couple years ago, I made orange sections in a simple sugar syrup and we were disappointed at the watery flavor when we opened the jars.  So looking for a flavor boost, I created a wine-based sugar syrup with vanilla and ginger.

Vanilla and ginger

Vanilla and ginger

Now, at this point, I need to warn you that you shouldn’t alter tested recipes when it comes to canning.  A little change in the acidity of the final product and you can create a jar full of deadly botulism toxin.   But in this particular case, the recipe is essentially pears in a medium sugar syrup–with some of the water swapped out for more acidic white wine, so I can’t think of how it could be a problem.  If you are uncomfortable (and I wouldn’t blame you a bit)–or just aren’t ready to tackle canning, the canning part is unnecessary.  Just cook up the pears in syrup, store them  in the refrigerator and eat within a few days. (Since it makes a lot, if you aren’t canning you might halve the recipe then and drink the leftover wine 😉 )  And I must confess some of our pears in syrup got eaten right on the spot!

Pears in wine syrup with whipped cream

Pears in wine syrup with whipped cream


If you have never canned before, take a look at some of the sources that teach the basic process first.  There are many online sites that are excellent resources–I tend to like university sites like the University of Georgia’s National Center for Home Food Preservation (which has my very favorite salsa canning recipe)  or Colorado State.  There are also good canning cookbooks that cover how to can.

Canned pears

Canned pears

Pears in Gingered White Wine

Makes about 8 pints or 4 quarts


  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced in thick slices
  • 10-11 lbs pears  (avoid Asian pears which are unsafe without extra acidification)


1.  Halve pears, then scoop out seeds with a 1/4 t metal measuring spoon.  Use a knife to cut out stem and blossom end.  Dip cut side in lemon juice to keep from discoloring.


2.  Add wine, water, sugar and ginger to a medium saucepan.  Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add both the seeds and the pods halves to the pan.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, then turn down heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove vanilla bean and ginger chunks.

3.  Add the pears to the hot syrup and poach for about 5 minutes. Fill sterilized jars with hot fruit and cooking liquid leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove any trapped air bubbles by sliding a knife or spatula between the food and the sides of the jar. Add more liquid if needed to obtain the proper headspace. Wipe jar rim with a clean, dampened cloth to remove any food particles. Place preheated lid on the jar and screw down the metal band fingertip tight.  Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts, adjusting for altitude if over 1000 ft. Check seals after removal (see canning resources above for more detail on how to do any of this).  If any jars don’t seal, refrigerate them and eat within a few days.

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  1. Love the photos in this post, especially the first one. I’m very jealous of your pear trees!

    • I was really excited to see those pears this year! But someday you will have citrus and other wonderful things that we can’t grow here!

  2. pears are quickly becoming one of my favorite fruits–they’re about to surpass apples on the list, for sure! this is an elegant and tasty way to prepare and keep them. 🙂

    • You know I hadn’t thought of it before but I think I agree with you Grace. I can think of several things I do with pears that don’t work with apples–and then I don’t need to cut up the pears for my daughter with braces 😉

  3. You had me at wine-base sugar syrup. 🙂 Sounds lovely and how awesome that you grew the pears too!

    • Thanks, Lynn. I also did figs in a red wine syrup and added bourbon to peaches (though I didn’t grow either of those), so I having fun with my “booozy fruit”. I loved growing the pears and now have some baby mulberry and plums trees that I hope produce fruit a little faster!

  4. Oh you lucky girl, two pear trees! I guess you need to have at least two pear trees for pollination. Anyway, your pears look lovely right off the tree. I love the way you were so patient waiting for just the ripe moment.

    As you know, Inger, I’m not much of a canner but I sure wouldn’t mind having a few of those tasty pears for breakfast, wine and all!

    Thanks for sharing…

    • You are right about the pollination Louise, though when we first moved here there was a single really old pear tree that still fruited, so there may be another tree somewhere in the neighborhood. Doesn’t pay to trust to fate however, though, does it? And speaking of breakfast, I did some fruity peach syrup with a little rum that I think will be delicious on pancakes or waffles this winter. Whew, good thing that winter is coming!

  5. You must have been thrilled with your harvest! Your pears look delicious.

  6. Can you use a sweet wine instead of dry white wine. I was thinking of a riesling.

  7. Your photos are amazing. I love pears in wine for dessert.

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