Can You Freeze Pears?
Yes! It's so easy to preserve pears in your freezer. I love a delicious pear and when they start coming into season, they're everywhere. We have friends with trees and they give us boxes full of them.
It's a fast and easy process.
How to Know When They're Ripe
When my neighbor gives me a box of Bartlett pears, some will be green, while others will be perfectly ripe.
"Perfectly ripe" pears have a slight yellow'ish color, and the skin can be barely pressed with a finger. Don't let them get too ripe. If you're unsure, take a bite.
Since they ripen unevenly, putting them into the freezer is the easiest way to handle them.
Prepare Your Pears
Using a potato peeler, peel the pears, then slice them in half. I use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds, then my paring knife to remove the "stem" that extends into the pear. You'll see it when you slice into the pear.
Cut the pears into slices. Sometimes I'll do a batch with thinly sliced pears (for making pies and tarts) or roughly chopped pieces (for making cobblers.)
But you will need to slice them. Pear halves create bulky packages in your freezer, and don't seem to freeze very well.
Fill a large pot with water and squeeze a lemon into it.
As you slice the pears, drop them into the lemon water. The acid of the lemon will keep them fresh and white until you're ready for the next step.
If I'm working with a few gallons of pears, I'll peel, core, and slice all of them into my lemon water before moving on to the next step. If I have several boxes full, then once I have my pot half full of pears I move on to the next step.
You'll see that freezing pears is incredibly easy.
The Next Steps
You'll want to add one tablespoon of Fruit-Fresh to every four cups of pears. Then add 2/3 cup of sugar to each four cups of pears.
Here's how I do it: I use a measuring cup to remove the pears from the lemon water, and strain them through a colander. After I have four cups of (drained) pears I put them into a bowl and add the FruitFresh and the sugar.
By the way, if you don't have Fruit-Fresh (which is available at grocery stores as ascorbic acid) you can squeeze half of a lemon onto them. The lemon (or Fruit-Fresh) preserves their color. The sugar, by the way, helps to preserve them.
And Into the Freezer
I use quart freezer bags. Make sure you write the date on the bag. I also write where the pears came from. Once they're frozen you won't be able to tell one pear from another.
I put 2 cups into each quart bag, press out the air, then lay them flat on the counter.
Once I have 4 or 5 bags then I stack them carefully in the freezer. Once they're frozen you can move the bags to another part of the freezer. You'll be glad you took this step of freezing them flat. They'll stack much easier later.
And that's all there is to it.
Pretty easy, huh?
The pears will keep for up to a year in your freezer.
Use them just like fresh pears—for cobblers, pies, or tarts. I usually take out two bags and put them in my refrigerator to thaw, then later I'll make my dough for the pies, pour the thawed pears into it, and pop it into the oven. It's so easy—and we get to enjoy the fresh taste of pears year-round.
Make sure your pears are completely thawed before putting them into your pies or cobblers. If they're still half frozen, it'll make your crust soggy. This is the voice of experience.
I hope this information helps you to preserve your pears for year-round eating.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can one use Truvia instead of sugar when freezing pears?
Answer: Sugar is a natural preservative, so fruits tend to last longer when it's used.
But you can freeze fruits without sugar, or you can use Truvia. In this case, try to use the frozen pears within six months.
Question: How do you measure pears that have been halved? Are you slicing them also?
Answer: The pears should be sliced, not left in halves. They freeze better that way and are easier to store in your freezer.
Question: Can I puree fresh pears and freeze them and make pear butter later?
Answer: Yes, you can. Add in the sugar before you freeze them -- sugar acts as a preservative. My mom freezes fruit juices all the time to make jelly later.
Question: Can frozen pear slices be used to make pear juice?
Answer: If your primary interest is having pear juice, I would juice the pears while they're fresh. Bring the juice to a boil, then bring to room temperature. Put into freezer bags and lay them carefully in the freezer (so they freeze in easy-to-stack packages.)
When you want pear juice, it's in your freezer. Frozen juice will last about one year. Don't forget to label and date your packages.
But to your question: yes, you can get juice from frozen pears but I would think (I've never done it before) that you'd get less than if you tried the suggestion at the opening of my answer.
Question: Can you freeze whole pears in skin?
Answer: Pears need to be peeled. (The skin becomes leathery in the freezer.)
Question: How thick/thin should the slices be to flash freeze pears?
Answer: I slice them about 1/4 inch thick, more or less. You could slice them thicker but I wouldn't go larger than, oh, about 2/3 inch thick.
Why the difference? It depends on how you'll use the frozen pears. If you'll use them for cobblers, then thicker is fine. If you plan to use them for tarts, you'll want them thinner.
Question: We sliced and froze pears last year. We did not blanche or cook them. They're brown. Are pears preserved without blanching or cooking safe to eat?
Answer: It's impossible for me to know. This year, include an acid (like lemon juice) or FruitFresh (ascorbic acid) to prevent browning. The cooking process kills an enzyme and keeps the fruit good to eat for up to a year.