Spiced Vanilla Pear Jam Recipe

Photograph: Jennifer Cordaro

Recipe by Jennifer Cordaro. Note: This jam does not set into a hard gel. The texture will be more like a preserve or fruit butter. If you'd like it to be more gelled, add low/no-sugar pectin. (See tip below.)

Recipe Facts

Active: 60 mins
Total: 0 mins
Makes: 8 jars of jam

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  • 6 pounds Bartlett pears, very ripe
  • 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
  • 16 ounces all-natural, no sugar added, juice concentrate of your choice, thawed
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional, for a very vanilla flavor)
  • 1 package + 20% of another package of no-sugar pectin (optional)


  1. Sterilize jars and lids. Place a small plate in the freezer so you can test the jam for proper thickness later.

  2. Peel, core, and chop pears finely. You can also puree them in a food processor, depending on the texture you want your jam to have. In a large bowl combine pears and lemon juice. Toss until pears are well coated with lemon juice.

  3. In non-reactive pot, add juice concentrate and water. Use a butter knife to scrape the tiny beans from the inside of the vanilla pod, and toss the beans and empty pod into the pot. Bring to boil over medium heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Discard vanilla pod.

  4. Add pears, cinnamon, cardamom, and optional vanilla extract to the pot. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring often to ensure the fruit does not stick or burn to the bottom of the pot. When mixture thickens, after about 45-50 minutes, test for doneness by spreading 1/2 teaspoon of cooked fruit on the cold plate and place it back in the freezer. Wait 30 seconds, then run your finger through the fruit. It should be thick enough to not run all over the plate, but remember that jams made without sweetener will not gel the same as standard jams. Here, the jam should just stick to the plate without being runny.

  5. Optional: If you prefer a more gelled jam, add 1 package plus 20% of another package of no-sugar pectin once jam is done. Use a whisk to mix the jam to ensure there are no clumps of pectin. Return the jam to a boil and stir constantly for exactly 1 minute, then remove from heat.

  6. Ladle the jam into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headroom, and process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Special equipment

Eight (8-ounce) sterilized mason jars with lids, water bath

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