Pear Vanilla Jam

February 17, 2011(updated on September 20, 2021)
pear vanilla jam

Despite the fact that I’ve now made this jam twice in as many weeks, I don’t have any pretty progress shots of it. I made it once with a class and another time for a video shoot, so there just weren’t any moments to snap a few images. However, it tastes so good that I didn’t want to deprive you all of the opportunity to make it just because I wasn’t able to make time for photography.

This is truly a transformative jam for vanilla lovers. Flavor-wise, pears are fairly retiring, so they provide a perfect platform for the vanilla to shine. What’s more, when cooked, the pears take on a translucent, golden-y hue that allows all those vanilla bean flecks to show their stuff.

pear vanilla jam on toast

Last Saturday night, we had a party to celebrate my husband’s 34th birthday. As in traditional in our little family of two, we put together a board of eight cheeses for our guests. I pulled out a couple of jars of jam to serve as accompaniment, but it was this one that got all the love.

Paired with a runny triple creme, people were speechless with the goodness of it. Because I’m a girl who loves to share, I gave all the other jars away as late night party favors and now I’m totally out (I finished off the jar you see above yesterday). I may have to make another batch, so you may see those pictures yet.

Note: Often I’ll tell you that you can substitute vanilla extract for the more pricey beans. However, I do not recommend it in this recipe. If you can’t splurge on vanilla beans (they are really expensive these days), consider getting a small bottle of vanilla bean paste instead. I use 1 teaspoon for every bean a recipe calls for.

5 from 4 votes

Pear Vanilla Jam

This delicate, vanilla forward jam is delicious with soft cheeses
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Servings: 6 half pints


  • 8 cups chopped Bartlett pears or any smooth, thin-skinned pear. There’s no need to peel.
  • 2 vanilla beans split and scraped
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 packet liquid pectin


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 6 half pint jars. Wash 6 lids in warm, soapy water and set aside.
  • In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine chopped pears, sugar and vanilla beans (and all that bean-y goodness you scraped out). Cook over medium heat until the fruit can easily be smashed with the back of a wooden spoon. Use a potato masher or immersion blender to break the fruit down into a mostly-smooth sauce (remove the vanilla bean solids before blending).
  • Add the pectin and bring to a rolling boil. Let boil for a full five minutes in order to active the pectin, so that the finished product will have a nice jammy consistency.
  • Funnel finished jam in the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canning for 10 minutes (if you live above 1,000 feet in elevation, adjust your processing time accordingly).
  • When the processing time is finished, turn off the heat under the pot and remove the lid. Let the jars rest in the cooling water for 5 minutes. When that time is up, remove the jars from pot and place them on a wooden board or towel-lined countertop.
  • Let the jars rest undisturbed for at least 12 hours and then check the seals. Sealed jars are shelf stable for up to 18 months. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

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242 thoughts on "Pear Vanilla Jam"

    1. Unfortunately, you can’t just swap a liquid sweetener for honey. I have a Pomona’s Pectin version of this recipe that I sweeten with honey going into my next book, though.

  • I tried this recipe but I used Bosc pears…I thibk it was the wrong pears because my jam looks more like apple sauce. I allowed the jam to boil as directed by this recipe & it just won’t set. Should I throw out the batch? I’m at a loss.

    1. This is a softer set jam. It will always have some movement in the jar, so it sounds like you didn’t do anything wrong and it’s just as it should be.

  • Hi, I made this jam this morning only I used peaches. WOW! Better than candy. My house smells amazing. I have both your canning books on the Kindle and love the wonderful ideas. Thanks!

  • This looks amazing. I hope we get some good pears in my local green grocer soon so I can try it. I shared it yesterday on my Facebook page, Cooking with Whole Grains & Real Whole Foods. I can almost smell it cooking, just reading the recipe. Thank you!

  • I just made this and oh my stars! SO amazing!! I’m so-so with pears, they’re nice but I certainly don’t put them in my top 5 fruit loves, but somehow this sounded special – and it did not disappoint. Very delicate flavor and the vanilla beans, (not vanilla extract!) is a key to the gorgeous flavor you get. I will HAVE to go get more pears and make more for gifts! Thanks!!

  • This sounds awesome – I usually make pear preserves but this sounds delicious and much easier! Can you please explain “packet of liquid pectin”? In our area, it is usually found in a jar. Do I use the entire jar? Or we have powdered sure jell available…… Suggestions? I am not sure what size packet you are referring to.

    Do you think vanilla bean paste could be substituted?

    Thank you! I have some fresh picked pears and will be trying this tonight if I can find the right pectin!

  • Hi I would love to make this for my parents but they are both diabetic. Is there a substitution that would work in place of the sugar? Thank you

    1. Unfortunately, there’s not an easy swap to make this recipe with a sugar substitute. You’d need to use a pectin designed for low and no sugar canning, and then use the sugar replacement of your choice.

        1. I don’t add sugar or pectin to my recipe. I boil down the pears with a tablespoon of water. After the fruit is boiled down and is mashed as described in the recipe above, take it off the heat and I add 3-4 tablespoons of honey (adjust to your personal taste and nutritional needs) and stir the honey in well (I add the honey after it comes off the heat so I don’t destroy the health benefits of the honey by overheating it). This results in more of a compote than a true jam because it doesn’t have the pectin, but it is similar enough that it is enjoyable and has significantly reduced sugar. You can even, quite frankly, eliminate most of the honey for your diabetic parents and its still really good if the pears you start with are really sweet (just past ripe works best). And since it uses honey and not sugar as the sweetener it has some additional health benefits (especially if you use raw local honey).

          1. Is it still safe to can in the way you described? I made this and found it to sweet but was afraid to mess with the recipes.

            1. It is no longer safe to can….you can make it and put it in jars in the fridge, but it should not be water bath canned. Way to many people play Russian roulette with messing with recipes and canning.

  • I have never canned before, do these jars of jam need to be refrigerated? And how long are they good for? Thanks I am making this right now!

    1. Once the jars are fully sealed, they are shelf stable and do not need to be refrigerated. Once you open the jars, they do need to be refrigerated. While sealed, they are good for up to a year. Once in the fridge, they keep for a couple months at least.

  • Pectin question, please (I think I’ve seen this here, but want to make sure): I’ve made this delicious recipe a couple of times, and just now noticed your pear cinnamon jam recipe. I see that one does not use liquid pectin. Can I make this recipe WITHOUT the pectin? Or can I use the other (cinnamon) recipe and add 1-2 scraped vanilla beans? I have delicious local pears! Thanks!

  • This is a fantastic tasting and very versatile jam! It is definitely a recipe I’ll use again and again. I liked the suggestion of trying it with a creamy cheese, so I baked a wheel of Camembert with this on top and it was a really delicious combination. I also used it as a topper on plain cheesecake…mmmmmmm!

        1. Amy, it really doesn’t matter that much. You need to leave enough headspace so that the jar will seal properly and not so much that the product will oxidize or that the jar will float in the canner. I prefer to us 1/2 inch for most things, but 1/4 inch also works.

  • This recipe looks amazing!!! I am definitely going to try it soon! I was just wondering if I decreased the sugar, would it still set? Thank you!

    1. It’s not going to set as well if you decrease the sugar. You’ll be better off if you swap in a low sugar pectin. Perhaps use this recipe with pears instead of strawberries.

  • Do I put the whole vanilla bean in there I have always used extract but I am going to get the bean for this i just am not sure what to do with it thanks

    1. You split the bean lengthwise with the tip of your paring knife. Then you use the flat of the blade to scrape out the seeds. Then you add both the seeds and the scraped pod to the cooking jam. At the end of cooking, fish out the pod before canning.

  • Making this recipe again after skipping last year. This is our favorite neighbor Christmas gift and people were wondering where their pear vanilla jam was! Thank you for such an amazing recipe!!

  • Marisa, I have your book Food in Jars and love it! Could I make this recipe in my Ball Jam & Jelly Maker. I bought the thing a couple years ago but have been hard pressed to find great recipes (like this one) that can be made using the appliance.

  • This looks delicious. I was wondering if you could tell me the brand of the liquid pectin you use. I usually use Pomona’s Pectin but it is a mixture of calcium water and pectin. Thanks.

  • Thanks so much for your last reply. I have bosc pears – do you think they need to be peeled since they seem a little thicker skinned than the bartlett?

  • How can I lower the sugar in this recipe? I love the flavors but found it was to sweet for my taste. Could I leave out the pectin lower the sugar and cook it down more and just have a softer set?

    1. You’d need to use a different kind of pectin to make this in a low sugar manner. I’d suggest looking at some of the other recipes on the site that employ Pomona’s Pectin and use the techniques and ratios of sugar to fruit that they offer as a guide.

  • I made this four years ago & really liked it. Yesterday I was gifted with a big bag a ripe pears from a neighbors tree & made this jam again. Wow- I’d forgotten how lucious this jam is!

  • Oh, My, Goodness, this is good!!! Yes, it will be spread on brie on bruschetta 🙂 Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  • I made two batches of this yesterday. It’s delicious, but is not setting up. More like syrup. The jars sealed, followed the time tables. This is my first canning attempt, so not sure if there is a remedy.

    1. It typically makes 5-6 half pints. My apologies that it didn’t say previously. I recently switched to a different recipe card program and a the yield data didn’t make it over for every recipe.

  • I am making this jam for the second time. It is the best! The vanilla bean takes it over the top. Pear jam before your recipe was blah, now it is awesome. Thanks!

  • 5 stars
    I’ve been making this yearly for several years now. It is absolutely amazing, and whether I gift it or keep it to my family, it disappears fast – it is just so, so good.
    I figured after coming back to this recipe year after year I should leave a comment! Thank you for the recipe. I’m making this year’s batch tonight.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this comment! I’m so happy that you like this recipe so much. It’s one of my favorites as well.

  • 5 stars
    Question for you- have you ever frozen pears prior to making the jam? I had a friend kindly give me a huge box of pears but we are leaving town in a day or two and I won’t have time to make the jam! I thought maybe I could freeze them and then that at a more convenient time?

    1. Frozen pears make excellent jam. Just make sure to add the sugar to them while they’re still frozen, as it prevents them from discoloring.

  • Help I only used 2 cups sugar…….it’s canned already.
    Can I leave it? Doing too many things at once….argh.

    1. Just leave it. It won’t be quite as thick and might darken faster than a batch made with the full amount of sugar, but it is not unsafe.

  • Can you use Asian pears in this recipe? I know they are lower acid and usually need lemon juice. But just curious!

  • Is you sugar ratio right for pear vanilla jam the pectin recipe box says more sugar than yours? Is it because you leave the skins on? I just want to be sure it is safe. We have certo liquid pectin.

    1. There is more than one way to approach making pear jam. The ratio on the pectin box is not gospel and I do it a different way. Safety has nothing to do with sugar content. As long as you don’t use asian pears, there’s no way to make unsafe pear jam.

  • 5 stars
    Help! I live in Scotland and normally use metric measurements – so easy and accurate. But I have a set of American measuring cups and use them if a US recipe doesn’t provide the measurements by weight. It usually works out okay, but this recipe has me so confused I simply must have your advice.
    I have made this a few times over the years and at some point I noted on my print-out that 1 cup of pears = 212g. That means 8 cups = 1.7 k. However, yesterday I decided to measure again and I got 8 cups = 1.350 k – that’s quite a difference!
    Nonetheless, I pushed on and THEN saw that the recipe calls for liquid pectin so I went out and bought a bottle (250ml) of Certo. Then I noticed the recipe says ‘’one packet” – what on earth? Remembering you have an association with Ball, I went onto their website and discovered it in fact does come in packets – two 3oz packets to a box. Alexa tells me that 3 oz = 85ml. Certo suggests using a half bottle to a batch, which would be 125ml.
    Confused? More like defeated. I just stuck the whole lot of pear pieces in the freezer and will await your advice. Incidentally, 4 cups of sugar appears to be 810g.
    Can you help me? I’ve got pears in the freezer and a lot more in the shed needing immediate attention. Wish I could send you some – but more seriously, wish you would take pity on us European jam makers and provide weight measurement conversions.

    1. Hi Sharon. I’m so sorry that this recipe is causing you struggles. I will rewrite it with weights soon, but here’s the quick version. What I’m doing in this recipe is using about 4 pounds/1.8 kg of pears and a little less than 2 pounds of sugar. Essentially, it’s two parts fruit and one part sugar. Additionally, I find that liquid pectin doesn’t work as well these days as it did when I first wrote this recipe. These days, I use 5-6 tablespoons of powdered fruit pectin for every batch of jam. It gets mixed into the sugar before the sugar is added to the fruit. If you have jam sugar available to you, I’d suggest you use two parts pear, one part jam sugar, a couple of vanilla beans, and some lemon juice. I hope that helps. And I’ll add this recipe to my list of things that need to be rewritten.