condiment, recipe, summer

Homemade Vanilla Pear Jam

I have very fond memories of growing up eating my Grandmother’s homemade jam. She made jams and jellies in every flavour it seemed: peach, strawberry, raspberry, grape, apricot, blueberry, choke-cherry…

So when I was at the local Farmer’s Market and I purchased a too-big basket of Bartlett pears, it seemed like an obvious choice to preserve them in one way or another. I researched different canning methods and techniques, and then set to work…

Success! Watch out Grandma, there is a new jam-maker in town!

This jam is perfectly sweet. The deep earthiness of the vanilla is very pronounced, but is balanced with the light nectar-like taste of the pears. My boyfriend Ben tried some on his toast the morning. His eyes got wider and he tossed his head back. “This is the best jam I have ever eaten!” he said, “… well, it ties for first with your Grandma’s peach jam”.

Clearly I have some serious competition, but in the meantime this jam is a killer recipe and definitely a ‘gourmet’ step for new or experienced canners. Not to mention this jam is beautiful as well, with the caramel-coloured pieces of pears and the vanilla seeds speckled throughout. I even think my jam-connaisseur Grandma would be impressed!

Homemade Vanilla Pear Jam


– 8 cups of Bartlett pears, removed core and diced
– 4 cups granulated sugar
– 2 vanilla pods, split down the middle and scraped of their seeds
– 1 pack of liquid pectin

Note: you will also need a large canner with a rack that fits inside. This is needed to make any type of sealed jam.


(Steps 1 and 2 are my sterilization steps– this is very important when canning, as it avoids some potentially lethal bacteria. If you prefer to sterilize using another method, go for it!)
1. Bring a full kettle to boil. Wash your jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in a saucepan, and let it stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.
2. Place your jars onto a baking sheet and into your oven at 225F for at least 20 minutes. I just keep them there until I’m ready to use them.

3. In a large pot over medium heat, cook the pears, vanilla bean pods and seeds, and sugar until the pears are soft (about 20-30 minutes, depending on the variety of pears you chose as well as their initial ripeness).  Mash half of the pears with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon.  Remove the vanilla pods, and turn the heat up to high. Add the liquid pectin, stirring constantly at a rolling boil for 5 minutes.
4. Ladle the jam immediately into the hot jars, filling them up until there is about 1/4 inch of space left at the top. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids and screw bands on. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner and ensure that there is enough water to cover the jars by 1-2 inches. Bring the water to a boil, and process for 10 minutes.
5. Remove jars from the water and place upright on towel to cool completely. Listen to the ‘pop!’ of the seals working! If there are some that didn’t seal, that’s okay, you just need to eat those ones first 🙂