These Gingered Pear Preserves are a must-make for us each year. I’ve been canning this recipe from the makers of Ball® home canning products since I first started canning in my first apartment kitchen 15 years ago! This sweet and tangy jam is perfect on top of toast, slathered on fancy grilled cheese, or given away as a thoughtful holiday gift.
This recipe only has four ingredients (all of which you can get at your regular supermarket), making it a supremely easy beginner canning recipe. Follow the directions, and you can’t mess this up! Let’s get canning.
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What is the difference between pear jam and pear preserves?
Many people use the terms jam, jelly, and preserves interchangeably, and while they are all sweet spreads that can be used in similar ways, they actually mean different things. It all comes down to the texture:
- Jelly: A pear jelly is made using only pear juice—there are no chunks of pear fruit.
- Jam: A pear jam is made using crushed or mashed pears.
- Preserves: Pear preserves are used made using chunks of pear. This is what we are doing here!
What ingredients do I need?
With just four ingredients, this recipe is so simple—it’s a fantastic way to start canning. You’ll need:
- Pears—Obviously! You’re looking for ripe pears (they should give a little when squeezed) but not so ripe that they are mealy or have brown spots.
- Limes—The bright tang of limes is a nice way to balance the sweetness of these preserves, plus the added acid from the limes makes this recipe safe for water bath canning by reducing the pH.
- Sugar—You’re going to want to use regular ol’ granulated sugar here.
- Fresh ginger—Grab a hand of fresh ginger from the store. You’ll only use about an inch of it for this recipe, and the rest you can use to make a pot of fresh ginger tea.
Don’t I need pectin?
If you’ve done some canning before, you might be used to seeing added pectin in other jam and preserves recipes, but not here! Pears are very high in natural pectin, which allows these preserves to set beautifully without adding pectin.
What kind of pears are good for preserves?
You can use whatever pears are readily available near you, ripe, and in season. We typically use Bartlett pears when making the recipe—they are easy to find, affordable, and always taste great. It’s also easy to tell when Bartlett pears are ready to use in this recipe—it’s when they start to turn more yellow than green. Anjou and Bosc pears would also work.
We do not recommend using Asian pears for this recipe. While they will technically work and are safe to can, Asian pears have a crunchy texture (similar to an apple) that makes them less well-suited for this recipe.
How do you make ginger pear preserves?
You can have this entire batch of pear preserves finished in under an hour. It’s a fun project for a fall weekend afternoon! Here’s how to make them:
- Prepare your boiling water canner, jars, and lids per the recipe.
- In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine chopped pears, lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Boil, frequently stirring, until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and test gel. If preserves break from a spoon in a sheet or flake, it is at the gel stage. Skim off foam. If your mixture has not reached the gel stage, return the pan to medium heat and simmer, constantly stirring, for an additional 5 minutes. Repeat gel stage test and cooking as needed.
- Ladle hot jam into a hot jar, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band, and adjust to fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
- Process jars for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and let the jars stand for 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool for 12-24 hours. Check lids for seal; they should not flex when the center is pressed.
Why are my pear preserves runny?
Because we are using natural pectin in the pears here instead of added pectin, it takes a bit longer boiling time to get the pectin to gel. If you test your preserves and see they are still runny, put them back on medium heat, cook for an additional 5 minutes, and then test for gelling again. Repeat this until your preserves are the desired consistency.
There are a number of ways to test for gelling when you are making jam or preserves, but our favorite is to put a small saucer in the freezer when we start making the jam. When it’s time to test for gel, remove the jam from the heat, and then spoon a teaspoon of jam onto the cold saucer. It should immediately chill and gel up. Run your finger through the pool of jam—if it’s gelled to your preferred texture, it’s ready to go. If it’s still a bit runny, pop it back on the stove for a few more minutes.
What’s the best canning jar for gingered pear preserves?
Like all jams, jellies, and preserves, we recommend you can your gingered pear preserves in the Ball® Half-Pint Jars. These jars are the perfect size for your fridge door, and they are a great size to give as gifts.
How long do pear preserves last?
When properly canned, pear preserves will last indefinitely when stored in a cool dark place as long as the seal is intact. However, the flavor, nutritional density, and color will start to decline past the one-year mark.