How to preserve pears

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how to preserve pears” and discuss the different methods of preserving pears.

How to preserve pears

A study showed that the median frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption nationally is 0.9 and 1.1 times per day, respectively. Nationally, 7.1% of students meet USDA intake recommendations for fruits and 2.0% for vegetables (1).

Pears can be preserved by refrigerating, freezing, dehydrating and canning. 

Pears are healthy fruits consumed on their own or added to desserts. Pears have a high content of water and sugar which makes them susceptible to spoilage.

The preservation method selected depends on the intended shelf-life and the desired quality of the final product.

How to preserve whole unprocessed pears

Whole pears must be picked when they are not fully ripe and allowed to ripen under the proper storage conditions.

The whole unprocessed pears will last for about 2 – 5 months under the proper storage conditions. The optimum storage conditions are -1.1 °C temperature and 85-90% humidity.

However, a study showed that  unpackaged pears showed 14.11% weight loss after 150 days under low temperature. This value added to losses suffered after five days at room temperature reached 15.64% weight loss, without, however, compromising the overall appearance of fruit. However, after 180 days at 0°C weight loss was 16.92% and fruit had the overall appearance compromised (2).

How to preserve pears by refrigerating

Refrigerating is the easiest preservation method but refrigerated pears have the shortest shelf-life. 

Refrigerating will preserve unripe pears for about a week while ripe pears can be preserved for about 5 days. 3 weeks (3).

Browning of fresh cut fruit and vegetables due to mechanical injury during postharvest processing and marketing is the most important cause of quality and value loss in affected commodities (4). When cut, pears will discolor quickly. To prevent discoloring, sprinkle a little lemon juice before refrigerating. Cut pears will last only 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Place cut pears in an airtight container or ziplock bag before refrigerating. 

How to preserve pears by freezing

Pears can be frozen for up to 12 months. There are several methods to freeze pears.

To preserve sliced pears by freezing:

  • Wash, peel and remove the core from the pears.
  • Slice the pears into desired thickness.
  • Arrange the slices on a tray lined with parchment paper. Make sure that the slices are not touching each other.
  • Place in the freezer until all the slices are frozen.
  • Transfer the frozen slices into a ziplock bag, label and freeze until needed.

Pears can be washed in salt water before freezing. This would prevent browning.

To preserve pears washed with salt water:

  • Wash, peel and remove the core from the pears.
  • Slice the pears into desired thickness.
  • Add salt to the bottom of a bowl. Make sure there is enough salt to cover the bottom. 
  • Top up the bowl with ice water.
  • Drop the pear slices into the saltwater, 
  • Drain the pear slices and wash them in cold water.
  • Arrange the slices on a tray lined with parchment paper. Make sure that the slices are not touching each other.
  • Place in the freezer until all the slices are frozen.
  • Transfer the frozen slices into a ziplock bag, label and freeze until needed.

To preserve pears in sugar syrup by freezing:

  • Wash, peel and remove the core from the pears.
  • Slice the pears into desired thickness.
  • Prepare sugar syrup by mixing 2 to 4 cups of sugar for every 4 cups of water. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the sliced pears to the sugar mixture and cook for about 2 minutes
  • Pack into airtight containers or ziplock bags.
  • Label and freeze until needed.

Browning of pears during frozen storage may be prevented by browning. Most vegetables and some fruits are customarily blanched before freezing, i.e. they are heated, usually in water or steam, for a variable period in order to inactivate metabolic enzymes. blanching conditions typically involve boiling for 3–10 minutes. If these vegetables are blanched before freezing they have a storage life of 18–24 months. The conditions of blanching are chosen so as to ensure inactivation of the enzymes responsible for oxidation while minimizing loss of sensory quality and nutrients (5).

How to preserve pears by dehydrating

By drying, the water available for microbial growth and enzymatic reactions are reduced, thus these processes are limited, which extends the shelf life of food. Conventional air drying is a process with high energy consumption, which involves simultaneous heat and mass transfer, accompanied by phase change. Hot air drying results in extremely shrunken products with tough texture, severe browning, low rehydration rate and low nutritive value (6).

Pears can be dehydrated using a food dehydrator. Due to the high content of water and sugar, it will take at least 24 hours to completely dehydrate pears.

To dehydrate pears:

  • Wash, peel and remove the core of the pears.
  • Cut the pears into slices of about ¼ to inch thickness.
  • Immerse the pears slices in a mixture of lemon juice and water. The acidity of the mixture will prevent the pears slices from browning.
  • Drain the pears slices to remove excess lemon juice.
  • Place the slices on the dehydrator tray with enough space to facilitate airflow.
  • Dehydrate at 57 ºC overnight.
  • Transfer the dehydrated pears into an airtight container. 
  • Label and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Dehydrated pears can also be vacuum-sealed and stored for 2 to 3 years. Dried pears can be stored up to 24 months at 40°F, 3 months at 70/F, or 1 month at 90°F (3).

How to preserve pears by canning

Canning is a preservation method which combines thermal processing and preservation through the addition of sugar and acids. Thermal sterilization is a heat treatment process that completely destroys all the viable microorganisms (yeasts, molds, vegetative bacteria, and spore formers) resulting in a longer period of shelf life. Sugar draw the water out of microorganisms and retard the growth of microorganisms and acidic condition which creates an unfavorable condition for microbial growth (7).

Pears can be canned in sugar syrup, fruits juice or water. 

Spices such as cinnamon can be added to enhance the flavor. There are several recipes for canning pears. A detailed recipe can be found here.

To can pears:

  • Wash, peel and remove the core of the pears.
  • Cut the pears into desired thickness.
  • Immerse the pears slices in a mixture of lemon juice and water. The acidity of the mixture will prevent the pears slices from browning.
  • Boil water with sugar and a choice of spices.
  • Add the pears to the sugar and spice mixture and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Pack the pears into sterile jars leaving ½ inch headspace.
  • Process the jars in a water bath.
  • Label and store the jars in a cool, dry place.

 Canned pears and nectar will maintain quality when stored up to 66 months at 40°F, 40 months at 70°F, or 15 months at 90°F (3).Canned pears can be stored for up to a year.

Other FAQs about Pears that you may be interested in.

Are pear seeds poisonous?

How to plant a flowering pear tree?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how to preserve pears” and discussed the different methods used to preserve pears.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.

References

  1. Lange, Samantha J., et al. Percentage of adolescents meeting federal fruit and vegetable intake recommendations—Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, United States, 2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2021, 70, 69.
  2. Kan, Chaonan, et al. Influence of different cold storage times on quality of “Cuiguan” pear fruits during shelf life. J Food Process Preserv, 2019, 43, e14245.
  3. Brennand, Charlotte P., and Teresa Hunsaker. Preserving Pears. 2010.   
  4. Arias, Esther, Rosa Oria, and Pascual López-Buesa. Determination of acceptability and shelf life of fresh-cut pear by digital image analysis. J Food Measure Character, 2018, 12, 2916-2926.
  5. Evans, Judith A., ed. Frozen food science and technology. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.
  6. BELŠČAK-CVITANOVIĆ–ZORAN, DRAŽENKA KOMES–ANA, and DOMITRAN–MILAN OPALIĆ. Content of saccharides, antioxidant and sensory properties of pear cultivar “Abate Fetel” affected by ultrasound pre-treatment and air drying duration. J food nutr res, 2013, 52, 239-250.
  7. Amit, S.K., Uddin, M.M., Rahman, R. et al. A review on mechanisms and commercial aspects of food preservation and processing. Agric & Food Secur 6, 51 (2017).