Small-batch Ginger Pear Butter

Ginger Pear Butter

Make a small-batch ginger pear butter: this smooth pear preserve with a tang of ginger is excellent with toast or scones, would be perfect with gingerbread, and delightful with shards of chocolate in an autumn crostata. The only word that properly describes it is a ‘butter’ – it has the mouthfeel of apple butter, but the taste of gingery pears.

I like to cook the fruit quickly to highlight its fresh taste. I use sugar to draw juice from the pears, add lemon juice and a bit of chopped candied ginger, cook the resulting mixture, and then purée it with an immersion blender. Like all small batches, this goes together quickly.

I like to use my favorite 4-qt pot for this, it’s certainly big enough for a small batch of jam.

Can it in a waterbath, or use the newer steam canner: either way, process time is only 10 minutes.

Ginger Pear Butter

Small-Batch Ginger-Pear Butter

Course: Jams and Jellies
Cuisine: American
Keyword: small batch, ginger, pear
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Standing time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
A small batch of gingery pear jam
Print Recipe


  • scant 3 lbs ripe pears, unpeeled
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp finely minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 tiny pat unsalted butter (optional, but helps with texture)


  • Pears with slight bruising are okay to use, but cut out any dark brown bits. Rinse the pears well, but don’t bother peeling them. Cut into quarters; remove and discard the cores.
  • Cut into small pieces – I had a bit more than 2½ pounds of chopped pears – and put them in a heavy-bottomed pot. (I used my favorite 4 qt pot, which was perfect for the task.) Add the sugar and lemon juice, then stir well, cover with a clean tea towel, and let stand 1 to 2 hours to bring the juice out of the fruit.
  • Prepare 4 8-oz jars, bands, and lids. Put a saucer or small plate in your refrigerator to chill (this will be for testing doneness.) Have an extra small jar, or custard cup, clean and ready for any excess.
  • When you’re ready for the cooking – you’ll need 45 – 60 minutes, no more – add the candied ginger and a tiny pat of butter, then bring the mixture to a boil.
    Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture, uncovered, until the fruit is translucent and cooked through. The smaller the pieces are, the faster this goes.
  • When the fruit is all soft and tender, remove the pot from the heat and whiz the mixture with an immersion blender to make a smooth puree.
  • Return the pot to the heat, and bring it back to a boil, then simmer on low heat. Stir often: it is easy to burn if the burner is set too high. Cook until thick and gloppy. 
  • Test for doneness by putting a spoonful on a saucer, and chilling it in the refrigerator for 2 minutes. After that time, if you can drag your finger through the fruit butter, and leave a clear track that doesn’t fill in again, it’s ready. 
    Ladle the mixture into prepared jars, wipe rims, and apply lids and bands.
  • Anything that won’t fit in your four jars can go into the clean custard cup. Chill it in the fridge: this is perfect with yogurt or on toast for breakfast!
  • Seal the jars in waterbath or steam canner, process 10 minutes.


  1. Donna Forsythe

    Is the lemon juice required for proper preservation? My daughter can not have lemons or anything citrus/acidic. Is there an alternative…or can this ingredient simply be omitted?

    • Not only is acidity required for safe canning, the acid of the lemon juice in sufficient quantity is required for a gel to form. You could certainly try a vinegar at 5% acidity.

      If you need to omit the acid/lemon juice entirely, you’ll have a different end result. It will be looser, more like a sauce, but it will taste wonderful. You might be able to cook the pears longer to get a thicker consistency. And without any acid, you’d need to preserve the result by freezing, not canning.

  2. About how long is the “Cook Until Thick” part?

    • Once I began to cook the fruit, it came together quickly: 45 to 60 minutes total time. A wide flat pan will make the process quicker than a tall narrow one.

    • Three jars cooling on the counter, fourth jar in refrigerator. I do believe I just had a religious experience…

  3. Pingback: Links: Pickles, Concord Grapes, and a Cypress Grove Winner - Food in Jars

  4. This sounds very good, and I guess it must be a real indication of the season because it’s the second recipe for pear butter I have seen posted in under a week. The other recipe was done in a slow cooker and included some port; so there’s another option to consider.

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I’m Maurita Plouff, and I write about cooking and preserving the local harvest in Southeast Michigan. Any recipe you find here is something I have cooked myself, and enjoyed, and think you might like too. I invite you to try the recipes, and leave comments.

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