Sweet and fruity, with a nuanced flavor from wine, ginger and vanilla, Canned Pears in White Wine is a fun way to have summer all year!
In the balmy late days of summer, don’t you sometimes wish things would last forever? The clear blue skies, the soft lake breezes, the bountiful fields, the fruit trees heavy with fruit… A paradise!
But time marches on. And happily the fall has its own delights! But you can preserve some of the spirit by canning pears. And this recipe is especially tasty prepared in a lightly sweet white wine syrup.
Why You’ll Love This!
Tasty. This is lightly sweet and fruity, but with a more complex flavor than canned pears in a plain syrup.
Extend summer’s bounty. Fruit season is short, especially if you like to eat local. But you can extend the season all year by preserving some for winter.
Planet-friendly. There are so many green benefits to home canning. The jars and bands (though not the small lid disks) are reusable, so there is little waste. And you can use local produce that hasn’t been shipped for thousands of miles and sometimes save on packaging too.
Plus it’s fun and economical!
What You’ll Need
- Water. This increases the syrup volume.
- Sugar. This sweetens the pears and syrup. This recipe has also been successfully tested with allulose sweetener. And it is safe to adjust the sugar levels to your taste.
- Dry white wine. This adds flavor to the syrup. You can use additional water or apple juice if you prefer.
- Ginger. This adds flavor. I keep a ginger bulb in my freezer at all times which makes it easy to add great ginger flavor to my recipes. Candied ginger (probably about half the amount) should also work, but dried, powdered ginger would cloud the syrup.
- Vanilla bean. This adds flavor and is less subject to degradation from heat than vanilla extract. You could use vanilla bean paste instead or even vanilla extract in a pinch. If you use vanilla extract, add it right before you move to the canning step.
- Pears. This is the main ingredient. Any color pears will work but avoid Asian pears which are unsafe without extra acidification.
- Lemon juice. This helps keep the pears from browning once cut.
- If you are canning this, you will need a water bath canner, jars, lids and associated tools. If you are simply refrigerating it and eating it quickly, no special tools are needed.
Step by Step Directions
Halve pears, then scoop out seeds with a 1/4 teaspoon metal measuring spoon.
Use a knife to cut out stem and blossom end.
Dip cut side in lemon juice to keep from discoloring.
Add wine, water, sugar and ginger to a Dutch Oven or stockpot. 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. Remove vanilla pod and ginger chunks.
Add the prepared pears to the hot syrup and bring to a low boil again. Cover and poach for 5 minutes. The syrup may not cover the top, but the pears will soften and release juice as they cook increasing the amount of syrup.
Pack canning jars tightly but gently (don’t smash or break fruit), then top with cooking liquid. Add more hot water or wine if needed to obtain the proper headspace. Place lid on the jar and screw down the metal band.
Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts, adjusting for altitude. Refrigerate any jar that doesn’t seal within a few hours and eat those pears within 5-7 days.
How to Serve
There are so many things you can do with canned pears! First you can eat them plain. It’s a fun childhood memory for so many middle-agers!
Then they are a wonderful topping for many foods. Think pancakes, ice cream or pound cake. And don’t forget to add some to smoothies!
Next, consider perhaps the easiest dessert ever–a pear fool. A fool is just cut fruit mixed with whipped cream–and it’s surprisingly delightful for a modest amount of work. To prepare a pear fool, just cut your fruit into bite-sized pieces, then mix with sweetened whipped cream. Top with more whipped cream if you’d like!
Canned pears can also go into a number of baked good recipes. Just be sure to drain them first, unless the recipe calls for the liquid, and avoid recipes that need the pears to stay firm. And while I haven’t tried it, a reader reported great success using canned pears in my French Pear Tart recipe (one of my most popular recipes).
So many pear treats, so little time!
Sugar Free Canned Pears
Sugar doesn’t contribute to the safety of canned pears; it is there for flavor. So I decided to do a batch using allulose sweetener instead of sugar–since I’m always watching my sugar intake. It worked beautifully.
I should note here, that allulose is one of the sweeteners that is less likely to crystalize. Using a different sweetener may possibly give you a syrup that has “sugar” crystals after it cools and sits for a while. It’s a natural phenomenon that users of real maple syrup may recognize but isn’t as nice aesthetically.
And for one final note, in my experience, sometimes items made using sweeteners instead of sugar will mold more quickly after opening than the same recipe made with sugar. This even occurs in recipes that aren’t canned, like a refrigerator jam. I’m haven’t seen that with this, perhaps due to the acidity of the wine. But it’s something to be aware of if you work with sweeteners or you lower the sugar in any food.
Can I skip the wine?
You can substitute water or fruit juice for the wine if you prefer.
You can also change the spices if you wish, just use whole spices or your syrup will be cloudy. But some examples of other spices that comes whole include cardamom pods, allspice, and star anise.
Canning lid manufacturers generally rate their lids as good for a minimum of 18 months. In practice many go longer. But it’s a good idea in any home canned recipe to double check that the seal is still intact before opening and discard anything with a failed seal. And even though a jar may be safe, quality will decline after about a year so try to use up last year’s jars before the new season begins.
Once open, you should refrigerate the leftovers and use them up within 5-7 days.
You may have some extra syrup, which you can use it to make a tasty white wine sangria. Add fruit and ice to your glass, fill about 2/3 full with leftover syrup, then top with club soda or 7up. If you’d like, you can also add a tablespoon or two of brandy, a fruity alcohol like Cointreau, or another alcohol of your choice.
And if you really have a lot of syrup left, you can water bath can it in another jar along with your pears. Wouldn’t that be lovely for a pitcher of sangria over the holidays, perhaps swimming with cranberries!
Tips & FAQs
I often use Trader Joe’s Reserve wine made with organic grapes when I cook. Besides the organic component, it’s a decent cooking wine, and not too expensive.
If you’re using home grown, unsprayed pears, you’re going to have some that may have a little insect or other damage. Since these pears are halved, you may see evidence in the core, as you remove it. But there’s often a telltale sign on an intact pear—a divet, or occasionally a small hole, in the skin. When I see this, I start my cut to one side of it so I can get a good look at what is going on inside. Then I save some, all or none of that pear, depending on what I find.
And I don’t compost anything that has evidence of disease or infestation, since like many home compost bins, mine isn’t hot enough to reliably destroy these organisms.
Do I have to can these? If you’re not a canner you don’t need to can these. Instead they can be kept in the refrigerator and eaten within about 5-7 days. In that case, I’d probably cut the recipe in half or even smaller so eating them up is manageable.
What if I run out of syrup when I pack the pears into jars? If you pack your pears loosely it is possible that you’ll end up with more than the expected 4 quarts and run out of syrup. Because pears are safe canned simply in water, you can just top off the jars (leaving adequate headspace—see recipe) with additional hot water or wine, then proceed to can per the instructions.
What if I’m New to Canning? If you have never canned before, take a look at some of the sources that teach the basic process before starting this. This recipe makes the assumption that you understand basic canning principles like how to tighten jars, etc.
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, Colorado State, or Food in Jars. There are also good canning cookbooks available.
Canned Pears in Wine Syrup
- 10 pounds pears approximate avoid Asian pears which are unsafe without extra acidification
- 1/4 cup lemon juice approximate
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 bottle dry white wine
- 2 inch piece of ginger peeled and sliced in thick slices
- 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.
- Add wine, water, sugar and ginger to a Dutch Oven or stockpot. 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 15 minutes. Remove vanilla pod and ginger chunks.
- Add the prepared pears to the hot syrup and bring to a low boil again. Cover and poach for 5 minutes. The syrup may not cover the top, but the pears will soften and release juice as they cook increasing the amount of syrup.
- Pack canning jars tightly but gently (don’t smash or break fruit), then top with cooking liquid leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove any trapped air bubbles by a plastic or wooden utensil (I use a chopstick) between the food and the sides of the jar. Add more hot water or wine if needed to obtain the proper headspace. Wipe jar rim with a clean, dampened cloth. Place 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. Remove from heat and let sit in hot water for an additional 5 minutes before removing. Refrigerate any jar that doesn’t seal within a few hours and eat those pears within a few days.
Updated from original, published on Sep 17, 2013.
- Creamy Leftover Chicken Soup with Noodles and Sage
- Apple Crumble Muffins