Pear Cranberry Jam

pear cranberry jam

It is no secret that pears are one of my great loves of the fruit world. They have a delicate, flexible flavor that goes well with nearly anything (including vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and lavender). They work in fruit butters, jams, and chutneys. Many varieties don’t need to be peeled before cooking. And if you’ve never tried one, you should know that a pickled pear are one of life’s true delights.

chopped pears

Knowing my general appreciation for all things pear, it should surprise no one that a couple weeks back, I matched them up with a bunch of cranberries, to see how the two would jam together. Well, the results are in. Pears and cranberries make a very good team.

pears and cranberries

One of the things I like about making jams with cranberries is the fact that since they contain so much natural pectin, you’re able to dial back the sugar more so than with other fruits and still expect to develop a very nice set during cooking.

My normal ratio for jam is two parts fruit to one part sugar. You’ll notice that in this recipe, I shaved off a full cup of sugar and still wound up with a gorgeously set, plenty sweet jam.

adding lemon

Like so many of the jams I make, I kept this go-round fairly unadorned. It was just pears, cranberries, sugar, and the zest and juice of one little lemon. I like to keep the first pass simple, to ensure that the primary players work well together before I muck around with secondary layers.

Happy with the basic version, chances are good that I’ll come back to this formula again and tweak it with some ginger, or a few warm winter spices. You are welcome to add a pinch of this or that on your first pass, should you so desire.

182/365

Though I missed the obvious Thanksgiving window for this jam, I have a hunch that it still has many opportunities to shine before the year is out. I’m confident it will pair up nicely with a plateful of latkes in place the the traditional applesauce (Hanukkah starts in just over a week!). I know for a fact it is dreamy with a smear of fresh goat cheese. And as you head into the holiday baking season, consider filling a thumbprint cookie with a dab of this sweet-tart spread.

Pear Cranberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cored and chopped pears
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested

Instructions

  1. Prepare a boiling water bath and 2 pint jars (or four half pints, eight quarter pints, or some combination thereof).
  2. Combine chopped pears, cranberries, sugar and one cup of water* in a large, non-reactive pot. Stir to combine and then let the fruit and sugar sit, off the heat, until the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 10 minutes.
  3. Once the sugar seems to be dissolving and the fruit has released some juice, place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. When the fruit begins to boil, reduce the heat a little and keep the jam cooking at a low bubble.
  4. Cook the jam for 15-25 minutes, stirring regularly, until it has reduced a great deal and begins to look thick and sticky.
  5. When the jam seems to be nearly done, stir in the lemon zest and juice.
  6. When you've arrived at a texture you like, remove the jam from the heat and funnel into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
  7. Once time is up, remove jars from canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel. When jars are cool, remove rings and test seals. Sealed jars are shelf stable. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
  8. Makes 2 to 2 1/2 pints

Notes

*Normally I don't add water to jams, but the cranberries make it so thick during cooking that it can seize up before the pears are soft. A little water makes it more workable.

https://foodinjars.com/recipe/pear-cranberry-jam/

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76 responses to “Pear Cranberry Jam”

  1. Hi Marisa,
    I am enjoying your book and blog immensely, as I simmer my way through a citrus marmalade binge over here in California.

    I notice in this post that you say you usually use a ratio of 2 parts fruit to one part sugar – is this by weight or by volume? I’m trying to collect some rules-of-thumb, to stay safe when I need to improvise by swapping out fruits for what I’ve got on hand.

    Obviously things change when you have high-pectin items, but how do you know how much they change? Just by the set? How much sugar is too little sugar (I like things tart)?

    I’d appreciate your wisdom on this. Thanks for all the fascinating posts, and your wonderful book.

  2. I’ve been checking daily for this recipe since you mentioned that it was coming. I finally gave in and last night made pear and cranberry jam using the proportions you used for the apple and cranberry version — more pear to cranberry and higher proportion of sugar. I swapped out some brown sugar for the white sugar and added a touch of black pepper and cinammon for “warmth”. Very nice but I like the idea of dialing down the sugar even more.

    • Lori, I’m so sorry it took me so long to get this recipe up! I think that your additions of black pepper and cinnamon sound delicious!

  3. I’ve been waiting for this recipe since you mentioned it!! I can’t wait to make it this weekend – my parents LOVE cranberries and I think they’ll love getting this in their stockings for Christmas!! Perfect for the holiday season!

  4. Marisa — I’ve just started canning and I’ve had such great success with your recipes — thank you! Pears are a huge favorite of mine too …. I see that you leave the peel on for this recipe — how does the peel affect the final texture?

    • Pear skins really do fade away when cooked, so that the make no impact on the finished texture. You’ll probably notice the cranberry skins far more than those from the pears.

      • ok — just finished up a batch — complete and total yumminess! plus it’s so pretty in the jars … 🙂
        I did add 1/2 cup diced candied ginger to the fruit — and 1t vanilla later with the lemon.
        thanks again

  5. This recipe sounds great, now I’m glad I didn’t make another batch of Vanilla Pear Jam last night. You couldn’t have posted this at a better time.
    Off to the store for some fresh cranberries, thank you for the great recipes.

  6. Hi Marisa! By 430 this morning I couldn’t sleep and rather than just lying there, I’ve been making the apple cranberry jam, we all love it. I add orange peel and it really gives it a nice flavor!
    Q for you~~ Is there a specific reason not to add the lemon and zest until the rest has cooked? This morning, in my bleary eyed state, I just dumped it all in at once and it’s over there simmering away. I just noticed it said to add the lemon at the end. Why should we do it that way?
    Thanks for all your great recipes, my book is already looking like my old Moosewood Cookbook does from back in the day. This is a very high compliment!
    Thanks
    Terri

    • Terri, it doesn’t do any real harm to add the lemon juice and zest at the beginning of cooking. I’ve just found you get more flavor from that ingredient if you add it towards the end. And I’m so happy to hear that the book is getting so much love in your kitchen!

  7. There’s a really tasty recipe in the Joy of Cooking for Cranberry Pickled Pears. The flavor combination is really delicious, and the color of cranberries is outrageous. Unlike so many fruits and veggies that darken or dull when cooked or processed, they seem to get even brighter.

  8. Just made and added 5 spice powder, pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. Can’t wait to taste this new recipe. I bet it is good with toast and cheese. I do have a ?, I dropped a can back in the water bath when taking it out, and it ended upside down. Is it OK or should I just put it in the fridge? Thanks Marisa!

  9. I just made this jam and it looks so beautiful. The taste is good but you are right. I would add spices to brighten it up a bit. Great for gift giving. Thanks! Love your book!

  10. I was asked to make 30 jars of seasonal fruit jam for my friend’s office Christmas gifts, and the only fruits that caught my eye at the farmer’s market today were pears and cranberries! I’m so glad you posted this recipe, it looks wonderful, and it’s perfect timing. Thanks Marisa, I love your site. -Louisa

  11. Hi, Marisa:
    Would it still work if I doubled the batch, or does it need to be small? I could also use half cup jars; do I need to change the processing time? I just want more than 2 jars when I’m done! Git ‘er done Christmas gifts…

    Thanks. Love your site!

      • Did you misread? You can double this recipe, since the cranberries add so much pectin to the party. And you’re welcome to can it in half pint or quarter pint jars.

        • Marissa- I’m new to this canning business, but excited. If I wanted to add other spices like black pepper or cinnamon, how much would you suggest I add.

          Also, if I doubled the recipe should I double all the ingredients? Thanks.

        • I was thinking it was 2 cups, but it’s 2 to 2-1/2 pints, which would give me 4-5 cute 8 oz jars.

          We’ve made bourbon cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving before, and now I’m wondering if a little bourbon warmth to go with some cinnamon would be just a little too out there. Only one way to find out!

  12. Thanks for this recipe! Made it yesterday and it’s terrific. I replaced the water with red wine because it was just happened to be around at the time… I’m thinking a little port and cloves next time.

  13. I had found this recipe after a mad rush of Thanksgiving Festivities and have since made your Vanilla Pear Jam. My first might I add! This was my second! I just made it this morning! After trying to find fresh Cranberries in the grocery stores after Thanksgiving was hard! Whew! After headed to the grocery store late last night I thought i’d just poke around and see if I could find any..with luck! Fresh and plump! I was pretty excited! Luckily, I have added this recipe to my homepage on my iphone and just had to click it to pop the recipe up. Which,after making the vanilla pear-I accidentaly dumped the remainder of my sugar from its canister onto my counter-I needed some supplies! I had 2 pears left over from the vanilla pear recipe. So,I just had to buy a few more. I woke up this morning so excited,went straight to the kitchen,before even brewing a pot of coffee! and started on the nummyness! It turned out SO well! I am so happy with my results. your recipes are so easy to read and the photos are fantastic in addition! I plan to snag a copy of your Recipe Book from Powells sometime this month! I am wicked excited for my canning adventures! Thanks for having such a wonderful blog and providing us ladies with fantastic recipes! +*Danielle in Oregon*+

  14. YOU know you are getting old when your children send you two boxes of Harry and David Pears.. NOW what did they think their father and I was going to do with one box let alone two!!! SO, I love to make preserves so, I looked up what the heck to do with so many pears and found this receipe and a Pear Cinnamon Preserve (to which I added just 1/2 of a vanilla bean). BOTH are absoluetly wonderful.!! Beautiful in color and taste.
    So Kids, if your reading this,,,BRING on the pears next year!!!

  15. Quick question for anyone that added a spice or knows how to add a spice. . . I just received fresh vanilla beans in the mail and would like to add some to this jam. Would I just scrape the inside of a bean and add it? Or do you think two would be better? Also, if I added cinnamon, how much? Still fairly new to this canning stuff! Thanks!

  16. I made a batch of pear cranberry preserves in September and used candied ginger and a bit of lemon zest. Ginger and pear are a perfect combination and this was well received as gifts for the holidays. In addition to complimenting poultry, it is wonderful with pork!

  17. Hi Marisa, I came across your blog and I find it very informative and interesting. Thank you!!!

    I wanted to ask you. You are saying that it is better to pressure cook to kill off bacteria, but most jams are just boiled (because of high acidity I take it). Questions:
    1.How long can they be safely stored when boiled and can they be pressure cooked?
    2.If so, how long does this recipe have to be pressure cooked and how long will it store when pressure cooked – will taste change?

  18. Marissa, pears have been super duper cheap at our grocery store lately and I was looking for something small to make with what was left of my 14lb box of pears. I found in my freezer a bag of cranberries from last fall and decided to give this recipe a try last night. Totally loved it! Had to stop myself from licking out the pot. As I was stirring the fruit and listening to the cranberries pop I had a revelation. Cranberry sauce is just jam! 😉 So I am going to save my six half pint jars for TG this year. Lovely! Thank you for sharing!

  19. Marisa, last week I had a lot of pears from my tree ripen at once. Over the weekend I just canned them all in quart jars with light syrup. Now I would love to try this jam. Do you think it would work if I used the canned pears instead of fresh?

      • I would think that if you dice them just a big larger, the canned pears may not disintegrate so much and you’d end up with reasonably sized pieces in the finished jam? I just made this tonight and subbed a good red wine for the water. My pears were frozen/diced from earlier in the year when I had so many pears. I set exactly four cups aside for this recipe.

  20. As always, your recipes are so timely for the mismatch in my refrigerator. I had exactly 4 pears in my fridge and a bag of cranberries that I was thinking I needed to do something with. The recipe turned out perfect and was a big hit.

    Thanks again!

    P.S.
    That creamy cauliflower soup that you listed is now in heavy rotation at our house. It seems I always have leftover cauliflower and cream cheese to use up- Or is it that i am secretly buying excess of those things so that I can make this soup any chance I get?!?

  21. I tried your cranberry pear jam this afternoon, and I really loved the result. So much so, that I decided to make another batch, but realized I only had half the called-for amount of cranberries. I used small diced peeled apple to fill to 4 c. and then 4 c. diced pear. My question is, can I use the same amount of water, lemon, and sugar to make a good jam or do those need to be adjusted differently as well? Thanks! By the way, in the first recipe I added small amounts of vanilla and cinnamon, and loved the taste! great recipe!

    • Lida, I’d suggest that you start with the amount of water called for. If you feel like it’s thickening too much, add a little more. If it’s too runny, cook it for an additional minute or two.

  22. Have you tried using sweetened, dried cranberries to make this jam? I have tons of pears on my trees dying to be processed and two huge bags of sweetened, dried cranberries from my local food bank that I’ve not figured out quite what to do with?

    • I’ve not tried it with dried cranberries so I don’t know how it would work. You could sub half of the fresh cranberries for dried, but you’d need some fresh (or frozen) cranberries to help provide the pectin for set.

  23. I don’t know how I missed the comments about adding spices last year but I did a batch with and a batch or two (okay 4) without. Love it both ways!! We eat in on cheese and crackers, with chicken on toast, on oatmeal

  24. The first time I tried this I found it a bit too sweet, so today I made a batch in which I dialed the sugar back to 1 C and added 1t vanilla + it cinnamon. It took about 40 minutes of cooking to get a nice set and is delicioiusly tart (tho’ still plenty sweet for my taste). The kitchen smelled spectacular while this was cooking, as well.

  25. I’ve made this in tiny batches (not enough to can) to mix into cheesecake batter- now it’s on the stove with some blood orange pulp mixed in.

  26. Recipe works really well! A great way to have cranberry outside of the Thanksgiving season. I’ve shared with friends and gotten many compliments. =-)

  27. Hi!!!
    I tried this recipe with the last pears of the season here in Canada, this week and it is DELISH! I made a batch to give this Christmas!!

    thx for this recipe!

  28. Just finished making 24 jars and I know it’s going to be terrific! The prep of the ripe pears was nice and easy. No pealing and easy to slice and cube. After quite a bit of cooking and stirring, the fruit didn’t seem to be breaking down so I used a potato masher to smash the fruit. It got me to a better consistency. Thanks for this recipe, I’m sure I’ll use it again!

  29. Just found this recipe. I doubled the recipe. I used Fireball and apple juice for the liquid and added Allspice. Licking the spoon it tastes wonderful. I’ll do this again.

  30. This is such a wonderful recipe., It has become one of my favorites. Thanks, Marissa, for this and so many other terrific recipes. And thanks as well to others for their suggestions, e.g., Stephanie for the red wine substitution for water. All those to whom I’ve given this recipe have loved it.

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