Preserved pears for Christmas

“I love being given homemade produce as a gift for Christmas and so decided to have a go myself! Sadly our fruit trees underperformed this year due to the terrible summer, but I did manage to find enough pears (Conference and Doyenne du Comice) to produce a few jars of preserved pears.”

“This is an easy way to preserve pears for later enjoyment. Delicious served with chocolate or vanilla ice cream, or créme fraiche. I used a light syrup ratio of a cup of sugar to 2 pints of water. You could also use apple juice or white grape juice as your preserving liquid. You could even use water, though a lightly sugared solution will help the fruit retain its colour for storage longer than a few weeks.”

“For spices I used cardamom, star anise and cinnamon, because I think these spices complement the flavour of the pears best. You could use nutmeg or vanilla too.”

Frances, Ashridge Nurseries

Ingredients (to fill two 2-pint jars)

(adapted from a recipe at

  • 8-10 pears (not too ripe)
  • 2 small cups of sugar
  • 4 pints of water
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 storage jars (Kilner jars, like the one in our photograph, work well)


  1. Peel, core, and quarter the pears. Add them to a bowl of cold water that has been acidified with lemon juice or citric acid to help prevent discolouration of the pears from oxidation.
  2. In a large saucepan, add the sugar, water, and spices. Bring to a boil. Transfer the pear quarters from their lemon solution to the boiling sugar water. Let them come to the boil again and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Pack your jars with the pears. Pour the remaining strained syrup over them to cover, leaving ½-inch of headroom from the tops of the jars. Wipe the rims with a paper towel. Put on the lids.
  4. If planning for long-term shelf storage (up to a year), fill the jars as in 3 above but before sealing them put them in a roasting tin with 3″ water for 20 minutes in a hot oven. Close immediately on removing from the oven.

As ever, if you give a recipe a go, please do write back and tell us all about it!

By Ashridge Support

Ashridge Nurseries has been in the business of delivering plants since 1949.


  1. Looks simple and delicious – hope to give it a whirl.

  2. Darren says:

    Excellent! Do let us know what you think.

    I was just wondering if a splash of whiskey in double cream might go nicely with them too… Just ‘cos it’s Christmas, of course!

  3. Ruth says:

    How hot does the oven have to be?

  4. Darren says:

    Hi Ruth, the water bath shouldn’t boil itself off, but it needs to be hot enough to do some sterilising, so aim for just below 100C (220F) for the 20 minutes. I hope that helps, and enjoy!

  5. Ruth says:

    Thanks for your reply. This recipe is so much easier to follow than others on the internet. I now have 21 bottles of pears to eat over the coming year…yum.

    1. lyn says:

      I’ve seen so many recipes for preserved or bottled pears but none seem to tell you how long they will keep for. It would be lovely to make Chardonnay bottled pears for Xmas presents so would someone kindly tell me if its worth doing now while the pears are ready on the tree (Oct).

      1. hMh says:

        Hi Lyn… I can tell you we preserve ours around Halloween every year..i use a lot of spices and a vanilla Bean and they are delicious in time for Christmas /New Year’s and will last right up until the next season! ( probably longer if they are ‘canned’ properly…. but mine never last more than a year because they are so delicious! So go ahead… if you’ve made a proper seal where the lid of your canning jar is indented down – it means you have good suction and they will last at least a year ! The only way they don’t is if they weren’t preserved properly.

  6. Sian says:

    Tried the recipe, but I ‘ve got pints of syrup left over!
    Am I doing something wrong or is 4 pints a bit much?

    1. DAle says:

      The recipe is for 2 pint jars of pears, so 4 pints of water is 4 times too much!

      1. Frankie Meek says:

        Thank you for your comment. Although we don’t specify the size of the kilner jars, you need enough jar space to house the pears. Simply top them up with the preserving fluid. Any extra can be used as a cordial or added to another desert or preserve as you wish. Kind regards Ashridge.

  7. Rona Campbell says:

    Hello Sian, So did I, so I used this liquid and added to it for the next batch. I used very large jars so I think there is too much liquid to start with, maybe 1 pint too much. But we could drink it! Have fun. Rona

  8. ethna morris says:

    thank you so much .bottled my pears today it was a marvellous year for
    fruit and esp pears i await christmas

  9. Angela gibson says:

    Hi France’s thank you for a super easy recipe, easy clear instructions and hopefully great pears at the end of it

  10. Angela gibson says:

    Just an update on the pears, 4jars done this morning, hubby came in tonight opened the 1st jar and declared “delicious” so to any considering this recipe go for it it’s “delicious”
    Ang gibson

  11. Barbara says:

    Should the kilner jars have their lids on or off when filled and then put into the water bath, a quick reply will be appreciated as I am in progress,

  12. Kevan Fogg says:

    I have, plum trees, pear trees ,apple trees ,gooseberry bushes,raspberry chains. And I have made jams,tarts,etc,but this is the first time that I have
    Tried bottling pears.

    Thanks for the recipe,I will. Comment on the results later…

  13. Finn says:

    I used less water but also added 400ml of my own freshly made apple juice which had been sterilsed and bottle about a week before. Will enjoy tasting these beauties in a month or two!

  14. cazzalepin says:

    Am just waiting for mine to come out of the oven! Smells great and it tastes much nicer than previous attempts. I used 2 x 2 pt kilner jars and still had as much liquid left over as I put in the jars so reckon it could be done with half the liquid? I used what I thought was a small cup of sugar? but I found it too sweet so have added a little lemon juice and a couple of slices of lemon – seems just right now but not sure how it will be in a month or so?

  15. alison sime says:

    im interested in using the vanilla and nutmeg option mentioned as i cant bear star anise or cardamon . just wondering how much to use ?

  16. Lesley says:

    Scaled down the water to 3 pints and still had 1.5 pints left. Not tasted yet but looking good.

  17. Helen Mitchell says:

    Try them with Mars Bars. Cut up mars bars, add some milk or single cream then melt together slowly until you have a delicious chocolate sauce. Pour over the pears while still hot. Scrumptious!!

  18. Therese says:

    Thank you for the lovely recipe and great instructions. We have lived in this house with an old peartree for 5 years and the fruit has been poor however, this year the tree is overloaded with Pears. Having never tried bottling before your clear steps made it achievable. I have bottled up 2 batches so far and plan many more.

  19. Chris says:

    I used this recipe last year and the results were delicious. I also found that less water was needed but used the excess for successive batches .
    Preferred my William Pears batch to Conference ! Am just about to start this years batch.

  20. Jo says:

    Thank for the lovely recipe and clear instructions. We planted a pear tree some years ago and it has borne beautiful fruit over the past 4-5 years but I’ve had limited spare time to try new ways of using them. I’ve just bottled up two batches and have now run out of jars as the sloe and damson gin are in progress in most of my kilner jars!

  21. Kelly says:

    Please can you tell me does the kilner jars lids need to be closed when the jars are in the oven ? I’m using the ones with the glass lids and rubber seal so how will I know if they’re properly sealed as they won’t pop when the lids are pressed. Sorry I’m completely new to this! Thank you x

    1. Ashridge Support says:

      Have a look at or you will find masses of DIY videos on using kilner jars online. However, the principle is exactly the same as if you were making jam or marmalade. With the lid down tight, as the pears cool a partial vacuum is formed inside the jar which seals it.

  22. Margaret says:

    Preserving pears for Christmas . when you put jars in oven in bath does the lid have to be open or shut thank you

    1. Frankie Meek says:

      Thank you for your comment. The lids always have to be open when heating the jars. Kind regards Ashridge.

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