Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What To Do With Hard Pears...

Pear Preserves using unripe pears!  Yumm!

If you are ever fortunate enough to locate an unattended pear tree and wondered what to do with your windfall, here is a fantastic recipe.  There are many different types of pear trees.  Some are eating pears and some are cooking pears.  While both come off the tree hard, cooking pears tend to stay hard and do not soften with time.  Which ever pear that you have, if it is hard, this is the recipe for you.  It actually requires unripe pears since they will keep their shape and not dissolve with cooking.  However, they will soften to perfection.

Unloved pears from the front of an ancient apartment building at my old college!
Pear Preserves


4 1/2 quarts (18 cups) peeled, seed removed, and chopped small hard unripe pears
2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
16 oz can crushed pineapple (2 small cans)
4 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
3 T lemon juice
Lemon juice for chopping


Chop pears, placing them into water with lemon juice to keep from turning brown.

Drain once chopped.

In a large stock pot, place half the pears, sprinkle with half the sugar, half the spices and half the pineapple.  Repeat with remaining halves.

Refrigerate over night.  The next day juice will have accumulated.

Add lemon juice.  Simmer until pears are soft and sauce is at desired thickness.  Stir occasionally, more often toward the end.  This will take between 2 and 4 hours.  If pears are ready and sauce has not thickened as desired, remove some juice and add 2 tablespoons of corn starch.  Mix and then return to pot to thicken.

Place in sterilized jars and water bath can for 15 minutes.

This is really, really good!


  1. You're darn right.

    We made a killer salsa from pears. Sweet-hot and to die for. The hard ones cook down wonderfully. The ingredients were:

    Sweet red peppers
    Chopped garlic
    Black pepper
    Red (hot) pepper

    ... and some amount of vinegar.

    My gosh. Really awesome. Now I wish I had some pears lying around. They're not as easy to find in Florida as they were in TN.

    1. David the Good: I have on my kitchen counter right now all the ingredients you listed above so as to lacto-ferment them all into a salsa (instead of the vinegar). Can you give any more details--like measurements? Are you sure these are all the ingredients? Is it OK if I use super hot "bonnet peppers" in place of cayenne for the red hot peppers? Is it OK if I use a few orange and yellow peppers along with the red (b/c I couldn't get all red sweet peppers)? Hope you see this! -- Nancy in TN

  2. Thanks, I am going to have to try that as well!!

  3. I came across your site after finding my first fruit tree to forage from in Nashville and I decided to google for other foragers in the area. I've loved your content I've read so far, and I'm excited to learn from someone who has been doing it for awhile!

  4. Hi Holly! Glad you are here! Of course I love this topic, and it is great meeting someone local who does as well!

  5. Dr. Mom, Do you ever lead educational foraging tours for groups? Are you up for driving an hour south to do so? How much would you charge? If this is possible, please contact me through Thanks! -- Nancy

  6. My tree is so loaded with growing fruit that some have fallen off. I hate to waste them. I have an old-timey sausage grinder. Without shredding or chopping (I'm nearly 80, but still strong), is there any way I could use the grinder instead? I haven't used it, but I've kept it around. Thanks.

  7. Patricia, you probably could use a grinder as some recipes do include skin. However, you may still need to core them to remove the seeds.

  8. Ok so i got some very hard pears from the food bank and I just cant waste food soo found your website, cooking about 20 rock hard tasteless pears and luckily had everything except i substituted coconut nectar and stevia for the sugar and two cuties for the lemons. ( we made do with what we had) the house smells great and the dish came out wonderful!

  9. Can someone help me with the doses of cups please? Have all ingredients but rather lost with cup measurements? Many thanks!

    1. 18 cups of pears after you have peeled, cored and chopped.

  10. I didn't have any pineapple, but had a ton of pears! Is the pineapple just for taste or is it essential for it to keep longer (the acidity in the pineapple)?
    Guess we will find out! Spent two hours chopping! Can't wait to finish it, thank you.

  11. To my dismay,yesterday I found a large branch on one of my pear trees had broken and was hanging down due to being weighed down by so many pears. I went ahead and cut the branch off and picked all the pears off the broken branch. Excluding the ones that were way too small, there were maybe about 25 or 30 pears. They were all coming along nicely, but none were ripe and they were all too hard to eat. After finding this blog, I decided to peel and core all of the pears. Put as many pear halves that would fit in a large pot of water and boiled for maybe 35 or 40 minutes. Added cane sugar, vanilla, and Karo corn syrup to the boiling water. Just whatever I had in the cabinet. Removed one of the pear halves after maybe 30 minutes. It had softened up nicely but was still firm and not at all mushy. Easily chopped up with a table knife. Let the mix cool down and refrigerated overnight. Chopped up some of the pear halves this morning in a bowl, sprinkled on more cane sugar, cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. I thought they were quite good! I read somewhere that these hard unripe pears don't soften up when cooked, but that wasn't true. Glad I didn't toss them on the compost pile. Will make another batch with the remaining pears.

  12. Do you have the measurements on the ingredients for sweet-hot salsa

  13. How long will it last for once it's cooked? Thanks smells great as I'm doing a batch now