There is nothing better than a pear that is fully mature and perfectly ripe. What an amazing flavor! But, if you happen to have overripe or too many pears that are perfectly ripe at the same time, how can you use them so that none of them are wasted?
I have dealt with a glut of extra or leftover fruit many times in my over 50 years of cooking and canning, so I made you this list based on that experience.
Here are 12 really cool and tasty things you can make with overripe or leftover pears:
1. Pear Crumble
I put this first because it’s ridiculously simple and delicious! It can be made from fresh, canned, or frozen pears. Simply layer pear slices in a baking dish and make a topping as follows:
For 5 cups of thinly sliced pears, mix:
- ½ Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
- ¾ Cup All Purpose Flour
- ½ Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ Teaspoon of Ground Cardamom
- 6 Tablespoons Butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 400℉.
- Layer pears in a baking dish
- Combine sugar, flour, and spices in a mixing bowl and cut in the softened butter with a pastry cutter or fork until it resembles coarse crumbs.
- Spread the topping evenly over the pears.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
This dessert can be served hot or cold, plain or with a topping. It is excellent served hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a generous dollop of whipped topping.
2. Pear Butter
If you have a little more time, you just have to try this!
This is the same recipe that I use to make pear butter. It is also the recipe that I use to make apple butter from applesauce.
This is the crockpot version, and the sugar can be adjusted to your personal taste and the sweetness of the fresh pears. I add only 1 cup of granulated sugar at the beginning of the process and sweeten it to taste during the cooking process.
- 8 cups of peeled, cored, and finely chopped pears
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- 1 to 2 cups Granulated Sugar, adjust for your taste and sweetness of pears
- 2 cups water or unsweetened apple juice
- 3 tablespoons Lemon Juice (or the juice of 1 lemon)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 1 teaspoon Ground Allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
- Pinch of Salt
- Preheat the crockpot on high.
- Combine all ingredients well and pour into a preheated crockpot.
- Cook on high for 6 hours.
- After 3 hours, set the crockpot lid at an angle so that evaporation can occur.
- Near the end of the 6-hour period, wash canning jars, lids, and rings, and sterilize them. Add water to a boiling water bath pot to slightly over half full and bring water to a full rolling boil.
- Check pear butter. If still watery, cook for an extra 30 minutes to 1 hour with the lid removed. If thickened, go ahead and process in a boiling water bath.
- Fill the canning jars with pear butter, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Clean jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth and affix lids and rings.
- Place the jars into the boiling water bath pot and process for 10 minutes, making sure there is sufficient water in the pot to cover the tops of the jars by 2 inches.
- At the end of 10 minutes, remove jars to a prepared area where they can sit, undisturbed for at least 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, check lids to be sure there is a good seal, wash and dry the jars, then label and store until needed.
Makes approximately five 8-ounce jars.
For your convenience, here is my apple butter video, which demonstrates the entire process. Just use pears instead of apples; everything else is the same.
3. Pear Fried Pies
Here is another fast and easy treat that will have people begging for the recipe!
Just use the stewed pears recipe below and your favorite pie crust recipe and follow these directions:
- Cut the pie crust into circles or squares.
- Put a heaping tablespoon of the stewed pears in the center of the pie crust pieces.
- Fold the pie crust in half and crimp the edges on the 3 sides to seal.
- Fry the pies in your favorite vegetable oil over medium heat until they are golden brown on both sides.
- Drain on paper towels and enjoy!
Use canned biscuits (the flaky kind) instead of pie crust for a faster version of these pear-fried pies that eliminates frying. Just roll out the individual biscuits, put a tablespoon of the stewed pear in the center, fold in half and crimp the open edges, and bake 1 to 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet at 375℉ for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
These are really delicious!
4. Ugly Pear Pie
This is absolutely my favorite pear recipe.
My dear sister, many years ago, was given a beautiful pottery pie plate with the recipe for an ugly pear pie imprinted on the bottom of the plate. It was a Christmas gift from another relative, but she recently passed it down to me since she was no longer able to bake.
Here is the recipe. You are going to love it!
Ugly Pear Pie
- 1 prepared Pie Crust, homemade or packaged mix
- 5 cups sliced Pears, peeled and cored
- ½ cup Granulated Sugar
- 3 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 1 tablespoon Butter, grated or cut into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 450℉.
- Prepare pie crust and roll out so that it is larger than the pie pan. Place the pie crust into the pie pan and leave the excess pie crust draped over the edges of the pan.
- Place pears in a bowl and combine with lemon juice.
- Combine sugar, flour, salt, and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl.
- Pour the pears into the flour mixture and gently combine the pears with the dry ingredients, then pour the ingredients into the pie crust.
- Sprinkle the butter over the pear mixture, then gently fold the excess pie crust onto the pie filling. This is the reason it is called an ugly pear pie. The top crust doesn’t cover the entire pie and is rough around the edges.
- Bake on a baking or cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 450℉; then reduce the oven temperature to 350℉ and continue baking for another 40 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the pie filling is bubbling.
- Serve hot or cold with whipped topping or ice cream.
If you love smoothies, overripe fruit is perfect for adding delicious fruit flavor to those smoothies. An underripe piece of fruit just doesn’t give you the flavor burst you are seeking. Simply prepare the fruit for freezing:
- Remove any brown spots, peel, and core the pears, and cut them into relatively small chunks.
- Place a sheet of waxed or parchment paper on a cookie or baking sheet.
- Spread the fruit in a single layer on the waxed or parchment paper and freeze.
- Once frozen, the fruit can easily be broken apart and placed into freezer bags so that you can add the amount you like to your smoothie.
6. Pear Bread
If you have never had fresh pear bread, you are in for a treat. Even though it is not as well known as banana bread or pumpkin bread, pear bread is just as delicious and has a flavor all its own. This particular recipe is my banana bread recipe which I’ve made some adjustments to so that I could use it with pears. It is moist and full of pears, and I hope you like the way it turns out.
- 4 Cups Fresh Pears, peeled and diced
- 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
- 3 Eggs
- ¾ Cup Butter, melted
- 3 Tablespoons Buttermilk
- 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Cup Nuts, chopped pecans or walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350℉.
- Grease and flour 2 loaf pans or 1 bundt cake pan.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the pears and lemon juice and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, butter, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and mix well with a mixer or blender.
- In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon and stir to mix well.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix only until combined.
- Fold in the pear and lemon juice mixture and the nuts, and make sure the pears are distributed evenly throughout the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan or pans and place them on a rack in the center of the oven.
- Bake at 350℉ for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. This recipe often takes 5 to 10 minutes longer to bake, but I start checking at about 55 minutes and watch it closely to avoid overcooking.
- Most recipes say to let the cakes stand for 15 minutes before turning out of the pan, but I always turn them out right away. Just use a knife around the edges if it seems to be stuck and then start gently shaking them to loosen, and they usually come right out.
7. Pear Cobbler
One of my favorite things to do with pears is to freeze some peeled, cored, and chopped pears in 2 to 4-cup containers to make pear cobbler, depending on how many people you normally cook for.
- It is very easy to take the pears out of the freezer, thaw, cover them with water in a saucepan, add ½ to 1 cup of sugar plus a half teaspoon of cinnamon, and cook that mixture over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Then, layer the cooked pears in a baking pan with the peeled-apart layers of flaky canned biscuits with the final layer of biscuits on top, sprinkle just 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar on top to create a nice, brown crust, and slide the pan into a 400℉ oven for about 20 minutes for a quick and delicious treat.
This was a quick and easy dessert to prepare when I was working and had a hungry family waiting for supper when I got home. The pears cooked while I was preparing supper, and by sliding the pan into the oven when we sat down to eat ensured a hot dessert at the end of the meal. Easy peasy, and I always got rave reviews.
8. Pear Coffee Cake
There are many different coffee cake recipes that can be used with pears or apples, some with a streusel topping, some with a streusel swirl in the cake, but most that are written for one can be used for the other type of fruit. In fact, this recipe combines two different recipes I have tried in the past.
Ingredients For The Cake:
- 1 cup Pears, peeled, cored, & diced
- ½ cup Sugar
- 1 large Egg
- ½ cup Milk
- 4 tablespoons Butter, melted
- 1¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2¼ teaspoons Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Ingredients For The Topping:
- 1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
- ⅓ cup Brown Sugar, packed
- 4 tablespoons Butter, cubed
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 cup Walnuts, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400℉ and spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar and cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter. Add cinnamon and walnuts and stir well. Set aside until needed.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, milk, vanilla extract, and melted butter and add in the dry ingredients. Mix well.
- Gently fold in the pears and pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
- Sprinkle the streusel mix evenly over the cake batter.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until it tests done when a toothpick is inserted in the center of the cake.
- Cool completely before cutting.
This coffee cake is good on its own with a hot breakfast drink or with a large dollop of whipped topping or scoop of ice cream.
9. Pear Sauce For Pancakes, Pound Cakes, & Doughnuts;
For those canners out there, I like to use the recipe for making pear sauce and applesauce that is provided by the USDA National Center for Home Food Preservation. Even though it is written for making applesauce, it can also be used for making pear sauce, and any kind of pears can be used. It is a very good basic recipe that can be adjusted for your own personal taste. The sugar can be adjusted, and you can add any spices like cinnamon or nutmeg if you prefer it that way.
This recipe makes a large batch that is canned for long-term storage. Their directions are easy to follow and contain all the information needed.
10. Pear Compote
A pear compote has a similar texture to applesauce and is primarily used as a condiment. It can be used as a topping for ice cream, pancakes, and waffles, and is delicious when mixed with your favorite yogurt.
This recipe can be used for almost any kind of fruit compote:
- 4 cups of peeled and chopped fruit
- ¾ cup of sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes.
- If you prefer your compote to the texture of applesauce, use a blender, mixer, or potato masher to mash the fruit. If you prefer chunks of fruit, skip this step.
- After mashing the fruit, put the pears back into the saucepan, reduce the heat and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until it reaches the desired consistency.
- This compote can be poured into an airtight container like a canning jar and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
11. Stewed Pears
This stewed pears recipe is another quick and easy treat that can be eaten any time of the day. Simply peel, core, and chop about 2 cups of really ripe pears, and add the following ingredients:
- ½ cup apple juice or water
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
These stewed pears are good eaten alone, hot or cold, or with a topping of cream, whipped topping, or ice cream. They are also delicious served as a topping for pancakes, ice cream, or pound cake. The sky’s the limit!
Note: If the pears are exceptionally sweet, just leave out the sugar for a reduced-calorie, healthy treat.
12. Make Pear Jam
This is the most involved option on the list, but if you are a seasoned canner, then you know that it really isn’t difficult to make jam of any kind. It is a relatively easy process.
Go here to see the full recipe!
Can I Freeze Overripe Pears?
Yes, you can freeze overripe pears, and it is very easy to do so. All you need to do is remove any brown or bad spots in the pears, peel, core, and chop the pears and freeze them in batches the size that you will need to make your favorite recipes.
To thaw the pears, here are 3 easy ways to thaw them depending on how soon you need them.
- Remove the container from the freezer and set it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.
- Remove the container from the freezer and set it in the kitchen sink in a container of cold water to thaw. You may need to change the water once or twice. This method should thaw the pears in 1 to 1&½ hours.
- If you need to use the pears within a few minutes, according to the National Center For Home Food Preservation, it is safe to thaw frozen fruit in the microwave if you are going to use it immediately.
Pro Tip: Never thaw frozen fruit at room temperature or in warm water. But don’t just take my word for it. This is a guideline of the National Center For Home Food Preservation,
The Best Way To Preserve Pears
There are several ways to preserve pears, but the easiest and fastest way to preserve pears is to cut off any brown spots, peel and core them, cut them into slices or chunks and freeze them. They can be frozen solid in the container or can be frozen on a baking or cooking sheet that has been lined with waxed or parchment paper and the fruit spread in a single layer so that after freezing, they can be separated and placed into freezer bags so that the amount needed can be removed from the bag without having to use the entire container.
Can Pears Be Canned?
Pears can be canned for long-term storage, and canned pears can be used to make any of the dishes mentioned in this article. They can be canned in halves or in slices. The canned pear halves also make a delicious and easy salad by simply placing a pear half on a lettuce leaf, adding a teaspoonful of your favorite mayonnaise to the center of the pear, and sprinkling the top of the pear with grated cheddar or Monterey jack cheese.
The canning process for pears is the same as that for canning apples by using the boiling water bath method, and that process is shown in detail in my video on canning apples.
How To Tell When Pears Are Spoiled?
The best way to tell when pears are spoiled and beyond use is primarily by appearance and smell. If the pears seem to have more dark spots than good areas, if they have mold growing on them, or if the taste is off, it is time to discard them and give them up as a lost cause.
Pro Tip: Most fruit, including pears, whether they are whole, the peels, the cores, and any scraps, can all be composted, although some may need to be cut into smaller pieces before adding to the compost. Just remember that most citrus fruits, tomatoes, and anything pickled should not be composted.
Having been born and raised in the deep South, there are many fruits and berries that I was not familiar with and had never even seen. But I grew up picking, eating, and cooking with figs, mayhaws, peaches, blackberries, dewberries, blueberries, muscadines, lemons, persimmons, and pears. My sister had all these fruits and berries growing at her home with the exception of peaches.
So, every year when the pears were in season, we picked, made all kinds of pear treats, and canned as many as possible to last us through the coming year. My mother, sister, and I all worked together to “put up” the pears, and it was a fine time!
My mother and sister are gone now, and the last pear tree made just a few pears this year, and the birds and the foxes got most of them, so I guess all that lasts of the pears are these recipes, my memories, and a single jar that was canned 2 or 3 years ago.
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
For more, don’t miss What Foods Can Be Sun-Dried? (And Which Can’t).
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