Anjou, Asian, Bartlett, Bosc, Concorde…all these types of pear and more are typically available across the U.S. from August through early springtime, thanks largely to orchards in Oregon and Washington. As those pomaceous fruits begin ripening in your home kitchen, you might be tempted to preserve some for later. But did you know that not all pears are created equal, and that there’s a particular type of pear to be aware of before canning?
We’re talking about those pears that are sometimes mistaken for apples – those petite, round, crisp Asian pears.
Asian pears are generally slightly smaller and rounder than other varieties, and are distinctly crisp in texture. There are more than ten varieties of Asian pear and some are classified as low-acid for canning purposes. So, before boiling water canning, Asian pears must have a strong acid (e.g. lemon juice) added to them in order to increase the acidity enough to prevent the growth of botulism-causing bacteria. The exact amount recommended is 1 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice per pint jar (2 Tablespoons per quart). Complete canning recommendations for Asian Pears, Halved or Sliced also include soaking pears in an ascorbic acid solution to prevent discoloration and preparing a covering liquid of a syrup, juice, or water. (Aside from the addition of bottled lemon juice, the recommendation is very similar to canning Pears, halved.)
You could also wash, peel, core, and cut into ½-inch slices then dry until pliable, but not sticky. If you fold a piece in half, it should not stick to itself.
Due to the relatively large amount of vinegar in the recipes, it’s fine to use Asian Pears in Pear Pickles and Pear Relish or even this unique recipe for Chayote and Pear Relish. Also, Pear-Apple Jam has enough bottled lemon juice that you could use Asian pears if you are willing to try a jam that may have a bit of a crunch to it.
However, Asian pears are NOT recommended for use in Pear Preserves. In addition to the potential for a safety concern due to pH, the crisper fruits might not produce the textural quality you are going for in typical preserves. So stick with one of the thousands of other varieties of pear out there for preserves!