A Particular Pear to Bear in Mind


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!

4 thoughts on “A Particular Pear to Bear in Mind

  1. Kathy Revello

    One of my favorite things to make is pear sauce – I really like the Anjou pears the best. I just peel, core and slice into a sauce pan and add sugar to taste while it cooks. I freeze it, but would like to know if I wanted to can it, should I follow the precessing times for applesauce?

    1. nchfp Post author

      Since we do not have a specific recommendation for canning a pear sauce, we recommend that a “pear sauce” be canned as what we call a Fruit Puree, as per the directions here (and this is not for Asian pears):
      http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_02/fruit_puree.html . The Fruit Puree recommendation is nearly identical to the Applesauce, but covers more variable end products with other fruit purees. The sugar level can be added “to taste.” However, if you prefer a chunky style and are not going to push the mixture through a foodmill or sieve, then using the slightly longer process time with quart jars as advised in Applesauce would be advisable to ensure heat penetration throughout the jar. Be sure that the fruit softens completely and breaks up into sauce if you are not sieving it. If you leave too large of pieces of pear, the heat may not penetrate well enough throughout the food in all parts of the jar during the process time. Plus, this process time is meant for a product with a long cooking time breakdown prior to filling jars and may not be enough to prevent spoilage in a slower heating product. If the fruit stays hard/firm then it takes more time for heat to penetrate through it and destroy any microorganisms that may be present. Also, without complete cooking and breakdown of the pieces, air could remain trapped in the fruit pieces and then stay in the jar and cause a lot of browning and discoloration during storage.

  2. Pauline

    Since we are at a Farmers’ Market that sells Asian Pears as volunteers, this is very important info to have. I did not realize Asian Pears were high acid fruit. I usually either eat/or dehydrate when I purchase them. I plan to take a few copies of this information with me at the market.

    1. nchfp Post author

      We’re glad this information is useful to you, and you are welcome to print and share it, as well as the recommendations that are linked to on the National Center website (as long as credit is given appropriately). However, please note that some Asian pears are NOT high-acid…that’s why a strong acid (bottled lemon juice) is added — in order to increase the acidity. It can be confusing because higher acid foods have lower pH values. In canning, these foods that hover around the pH cutoff for acid foods (pH 4.6 or below) are called borderline acid foods.

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