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Pear Butter Recipe

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Lightly sweetened cooked pears with citrus and warm spices transform into a delicious thick pear butter that makes a fantastic spread or cheese topping. This no pectin pear butter recipe is easy to make, and canning pear butter makes it shelf stable and enjoyable all year long. Read on for the easy walk through on how to make it!

Six jars of pear butter on a wooden table with a whole pear and a few cinnamon sticks

Have you ever had a fruit butter? If you’re scratching your head at what the heck pear butter is, prepare to have your world blown. If you’re familiar with it, you know how incredibly delicious a sweet, thick fruit butter can be. It’s a lovely topping for cheese, a delicious spread on your pb&j’s, and a wonderful mix in for yogurt or granola. Or you know, just eat it off a spoon!

This pear butter recipe is a truly beautiful way to preserve the flavor of pears at their peak. Mixed with a touch of orange and lemon, warm winter spices, and just enough sugar to thicken and sweeten the butter, it’s a delicious canning recipe to make for loved ones as food gifts, or just to stock your cupboard.

Choosing your Pears

Just like apples, there are many different varieties of pears out there, and each have their own distinctive taste, texture, and level of sweetness.

three bartlett pears on a brown towel

We used a very common, easy to find pear called the Bartlett pear. It’s sweet, and gets soft and juicy when ripe. Since the pears are being cooked down, you can use a pear with a firmer texture, but be sure to use one with comparable sweetness. Here’s a handy pear variety list you can check out, but these are the pears I recommend:

  • Bartlett Pears – both the green and red varieties
  • Red & Green Anjou
  • Starkrimson

Ingredients for Pear Butter

There are tons of different ways to make a pear butter, but for this particular pear butter recipe, it’s a combination of citrus and spice that enhance the natural flavors of pear for a decadent spread.

A bowl of frozen pear chunks beside two white bowls with lemon and orange juice in front of a pile of cloves, a cinnamon stick, and orange and lemon peels beside a bowl of sugar
  • Pears – You need 4 lbs, which should be around 8 to 10 pears. You can use frozen peeled pears, or fresh peeled pears. In the photograph above is 4 lbs of pears we previously processed and froze for later use.
  • Sugar – Unlike jams and jellies, this doesn’t require a ton of sugar to set. Simple white sugar works, granulated, cane, or coconut.
  • Orange Juice & Peel – You’ll need about 1 orange juiced, don’t discard the peel! You’ll need to slice two strips, about 1/2 inch wide from the peel. scrape off as much white as you can.
  • Lemon Juice & Peel – 2 Tablespoons of juice and same process for the peel as above.
  • Whole Cloves – You’ll need about 14 whole cloves.
  • Cinnamon Stick – 1 good cinnamon stick will do.
  • Vanilla – Learn how to make your own vanilla here!
  • Nutmeg – Just enough to finish off the spices.

Equipment for Canning PEar Butter

If you’re interested in making this recipe shelf stable (a great idea for long term enjoyment and as an easy gift during the holiday season!) you’ll need the follow equipment.

Your pear butter can also be frozen if you prefer, which requires only freezer safe containers of choice.

How to Make Pear Butter

The process of making this pear butter recipe is as simple as dump, stir occasionally, and then store. This makes a total of about 52 ounces of pear butter, so six 8 ounce jars plus a little extra to use right away (we stuck it in a little 4 ounce jar in the fridge), or whatever combination of jar sizes you prefer. It can go as fast as an hour, to several hours, depending on your stove and how closely you’re willing to pay attention.

A large steel pot containing cooked pear butter on top of a granite slab on a wooden table
Cooked pear butter
  1. First prepare your ingredients as needed.
    1. Peel and chop pears if using fresh. We prefer an applesauce texture to our fruit butter so you can either pulse lightly in a blender now, use an immersion blender during cooking, or cook and mash with a potato masher by hand.
    2. Juice and prepare your citrus rinds. For each strip of citrus rind (2 orange, 2 lemon) be sure to scrape as much white as you can from the back to prevent bitterness.
    3. Pierce both orange rind strips with 4 cloves each, and both lemon rind strips with 3 cloves.
    4. Combine the pears, sugar, citrus juices, rinds with cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, and a broken cinnamon stick into a large pot.
    5. Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
    6. Now you have choices….
      1. Cook low and slow, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and scorching on the bottom of the pan.
      2. Cook over higher heat and be more attentive to the pan, stirring more frequently to ensure the bottom of the pan doesn’t scorch.
    7. Continue cooking until pears have thickened. They should mound on the spoon and run off slowly. It will also be a deeper, richer yellow color.
    8. Remove the citrus rinds and cinnamon stick pieces. If cloves have fallen off into the butter, you can fish them out, or leave them in, it won’t hurt anything, simply remove when eating.
    9. For freezing, ladle into freezer safe containers, leaving about an inch of space for expansion at the top, and let cool to room temperature. Then freeze!
a small jar of pear butter piled thickly on a spoon in front of a fresh pear and several other jars of sealed pear butter

How to can your Pear Butter

If canning, there are a few extra easy steps.

  1. While pears are cooking down, go ahead and prepare your canning pot. Place in your canning rack and fill it with enough water to cover your chosen jars by 1 inch. Bring to a boil.
  2. When pears are almost done, heat your jars. This can be done by briefly submerging in the boiling water or by running them through a rinse and dry cycle on your dishwasher (without anything else in it).
  3. When pear butter is done cooking remove jars and flip to dry if needed. Then ladle in pear butter using your funnel to keep the rims clean. Leave between 1/4″ and 1/2″ of head space between the butter and the seal of the jar.
  4. If there are any drips on the top of the jars, wipe clean with a damp paper towel then dry.
  5. Using hand protection place seals and lids on your filled jars and screw them down as tight as you can by hand.
  6. Submerge your jars into the boiling water and let them process for 10 minutes. Make sure the water is at a full boil the whole time.
  7. Remove and set on a towel until the lids pop. You’ll hear this, or you can check by pressing down on the center of the lid, if it moves and make a clicking sound it hasn’t sealed yet. This can take a few minutes to a few hours. Once they’ve sealed and are cool to the touch, store in the cupboard for up to 18 months!
several jars of pear butter after being processed in a water bath on a tan towel

FAQ’s

Can I use ground spices?

Yes. If you don’t have whole cloves substitute the whole cloves for about 1 teaspoon of cloves. For 1 cinnamon stick, substitute 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

Can I half this recipe?

Yes, you can split this recipe in half and it will work. You can also double it.

I don’t need pectin for this?

No, this won’t ‘set’ like a jam or a jelly, its a thickened cooked fruit spread.

How long will this last in the freezer?

About 1 year.

An 8 ounce jar of a pear butter recipe with two cinnamon sticks sitting beside it on a wooden table.

I hope you enjoy spooning this over everything like we do. It’s just sweet enough with a nice hint of citrus and spices. Plus its much lower in sugar than your average fruit preserve so I feel okay spreading a layer on my son’s peanut butter sandwiches. Boy does he love it! Enjoy, and until next time, Happy Eating!

Other Preserve Recipes you May Enjoy

Enjoy your Pear butter on…

Six jars of pear butter on a wooden table with a whole pear and a few cinnamon sticks
5 from 1 vote

Pear Butter

Print Recipe
Sweet pears, warm spices, and a hint of winter citrus make this pear butter recipe a winter canning favorite.
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:1 hr 30 mins
Canning Time, optional:15 mins
Total Time:2 hrs

Equipment

  • Canning pot with rack
  • ladle
  • Funnel
  • Seven 8 ounce mason jars
  • Jar clamps

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs pears fresh or frozen
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 14 whole cloves or 1 tsp ground
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp ground
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • If using fresh pears begin my coring, peeling, and dicing your pears. You can also pop them into a blender or food processor and pulse lightly to finely chop (not puree). Or place them in your cooking pot and use an immersion blender.*
  • Juice your lemon and orange, reserving the peel. Cut two 1/2 inch wide strips from each the lemon and the orange peel and using a small sharp knife, scrape off as much of the white pith underneath as possible.
  • Pierce each peel strip with the knife and stick a clove through it (unless using ground then skip this step).
  • Add pears, sugar, citrus juice, spices, and citrus peel to a large pot. Turn heat to medium and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer the pears until they've thickened and reduced, stirring every few minutes. About 1 hour.
  • The pear butter is done when it mounds on the spoon (holds it's shape when scooped up) and slides very slowly off the spoon. It will look deeper in color and thicker.
  • If freezing, ladle into freezer safe containers, leaving 1 inch of space at the top for and allow to cool before sealing and freezing for up to 1 year. For canning, move to next step.

Canning Instructions

  • While pear butter is cooking, bring a large canning pot full of water to a boil. You need a canning rack and enough water to cover the jars you use by 1 inch when submerged.
  • When pear butter is very close to done heat clean jars by submerging in boiling water then removing and turning upside down on a towel to dry a minute or so. Set new seals and clean lids close at hand.
  • When pear butter is done place a funnel in the mouth of warm jars and fill each jar, leaving only 1/4" to 1/2" of space between the butter and the rim of jar.
  • If any butter is on the rims carefully wipe off and place seals and lids on jars. Using hand protection tightly seal the lids as much as you can by hand.
  • Place the jars in the boiling water and let process for 10 minutes. When done, remove to towel and let sit until the lids pop (no longer move or click when pressed on). Store in cupboard for up to 18 months.

Notes

*You can use frozen pears, simple thaw and pulse in blender or food processor to break down or cook from frozen and use an immersion blender or a potato masher when thaw and beginning to break down. If using an immersion blender, you’ll need to momentarily remove the citrus peel and cinnamon stick. 
*Times may vary depending on the stove you’re using and the temperature you’re cooking at. To speed up the cooking, keep at a rapid simmer and stir frequently to prevent sticking. 

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tbs | Calories: 21kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 8IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg
Servings: 104 2 Tablespoon servings
Calories: 21kcal
Author: Mikayla M

Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.

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6 Comments

  1. Mine also is very runny. Have been letting it simmer for HOURS now. Going to give it a new name. Instead of “butter”, needs to reflect the syrupy saucy nature. Great flavor though/

    1. Hi Melissa, I wanted to reply asap since I saw this as it came in. Pear butter does thicken as it cools, especially once in the fridge. If it’s very runny, syrupy as you say turn the heat up. The only reason it should be runny is that it hasn’t reduced enough.

      Different pears have different acid and water content, it’s impossible for me to know what you have. You can add a splash of lemon juice and more sugar if you like to help it tighten up, but reducing it on a higher temperature with the lid off is what I would do.

      Keep an eye on it and make sure you stir occasionally to prevent it from scorching on the higher heat.

      If you want to check how it will be once cooled, stick a small dinner plate in the freezer for 15 minutes, then dollop a bit on there. Once cooled that’s the consistency the final butter will have.

      I’m sorry you’re having trouble, I make this every year for the holidays. I hope I’ve helped and glad it at least tastes good!

  2. I made this yesterday and processed the jars in a water bath. All jars sealed (yay), however, when I checked the jars this morning, the pear butter seems rather runny. Will it set or do I need to reprocess and cook the pear butter down more?

    1. I’m glad you got them all sealed! Pear butter is definitely a looser set spread than a jam or jelly often is, it should be the consistency of a slightly thick applesauce, spreadable but not watery. It often thickens once cooled and if you refrigerate a jar it will tighten up a little.

      You can open and recook the butter if it feels to thin to you, since your cans properly sealed they’re safe however. So you can also just open one jar at a time, cook it down, and store that in the fridge to use. That way you can avoid the recanning process if you wish! I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any more questions.

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve never tried pear butter, only apple butter, but I’m sure it’s incredibly delicious! I can see using it in pork dishes, too! And yes, great on Scottish oatcakes–thanks for including my recipe!

    1. Ooh I’m so trying this on pork chops, I have no idea why that didn’t cross my mind! Thanks! Your oatcakes are on my baking menu this week too, so excited to try them together!

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