Freeze pears while they're in season, so you can enjoy them throughout the year. Here are simple freezing instructions:
1. Start with firm, ripe fruit. If you just picked your pears, they probably aren't ready for the freezer yet. Pears need to ripen off of the tree, and it's a process that usually take a few weeks. Follow the steps in my "how to store pears" article for perfectly ripened pears. Then, come back here to learn how to freeze your pears when they're ready.
Already have ripe pears? Then, let's continue ...
2. Wash, peel, core and stem the pears. Then, cut them up into halves, quarters, slices – whatever you want.
3. To keep the pears from browning, add either 3/4 tsp of ascorbic acid, 1/4 tsp citric acid, 3 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 Tbsp salt or Ball's Fruit Fresh (in the amount specified on the label) to a quart of water, and soak the pears in the solution for a couple minutes.
4. Choose your preservation method. Preserving your pears in syrup will result in the best color and texture, but you can also freeze them in sugar, juice, water or nothing at all:
A 40% syrup (medium syrup) is recommended for pears. To create your syrup, dissolve three cups of sugar in four cups of lukewarm water. This will give you about five and a half cups of syrup, or enough for 8-11 pints of pears (each pint will use between 1/2 and 2/3 cup of syrup). Double, triple or quadruple this amount to meet your needs.
Once the syrup is prepared, bring it to a boil on the stove; add the pears; and blanche for two minutes. Let cool; then, pack the pears in wide-mouthed freezer jars (or other freezer-safe containers). Fill the empty space with your syrup. Leave 1/2-inch of headspace in each pint; 1-inch headspace in each quart.
To ensure the pears stay submerged, stick a piece of crumbled up wax paper at the top of each jar before sealing and freezing.
Sprinkle the pears with sugar (how much you use is a matter of personal preference, but 1/2 cup per quart is typical). Allow the pears to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and a syrup has formed. Then, pack the pears in jars, leaving the appropriate headspace, and freeze.
Juice or Water Pack (Unsweetened Pack)
Blanch pears in fruit juice (apple or white grape) or water for two minutes. Let cool. Then, pack the pears in jars (of other freezer-safe containers), and fill in the empty space with the juice or water, being sure to leave the proper headspace. Use a piece of crumbled up wax paper to keep the pears submerged. Then, seal and freeze.
Place pear slices on a cookie sheet, and flash freeze. Then, transfer to freezer bags.
Not Sure Which Method to Choose?
Knowing how you plan to use your pears makes it easier to decide:
Planning to use them uncooked?
Consider the syrup pack or juice pack method.
Planning to use them for pies or other cooked recipes? Consider the sugar pack or dry pack method.
Planning to use them in sweetened jams, jellies, fruit butters or sauces? Consider the unsweetened pack method.
Regular-mouth jars are not recommended for freezing. Stick with freezer-safe jars.
Save time when preparing pies and cobblers by freezing pears in the pie plate or dish that you plan to use (you can even add your spices now). Then, transfer the pears to freezer bags once they're frozen. To use: simply drop your pears into a pie crust (there's no need to thaw them), and continue on with your recipe (expect slightly longer baking times when using frozen fruit)
Useful Pear Math:
One bushel of pears is about 50 lbs
1 to 1-1/4 pounds of pears yields 1 pint of frozen pears
One pound of pears is equal to about two cups of sliced pears
One bushel of pears yields 40-50 pints of frozen pears