What to do with too many pears

Happy Fall Y’all! Today I have a special article from guest writer Heidi Koop-Jordan! Here’s her take on what to do with too many pears. Heidi has a giant pear tree and knows exactly what to do with them all!

The leaves are turning colors, the air is feeling nippy, your favorite teas are finding their way onto your countertop for easy access, and you’ve likely found yourself curled up in front of the fireplace this week. This is pear season. Those big beautiful branches are finally heavy with sweet, ripe, crisp pears for the taking. I know my tree is, and it’s begging for some attention.

Here are some fantastic ways I’ve learned to deal with too many pears:

  • Bake
  • Preserve
  • Sauté, Blend, Spread
  • Paint & Craft 
  • Ignore, Hand Off, Give Away

There are tons of baking dishes, snacks, crafts, and other uses for pears once you get a bit creative. Read on for all the details about how to make the most of your pear harvest (even if it’s a bit excessive).

Ways to use up a giant harvest of pears

This is my tenth year with my pear tree, and we have had our ups and downs. I have probably ignored her more than she would like, but deep down, I love her tremendously.

She is the backdrop to my children’s spring photos, with her beautiful white fluffy blossoms filling up the entire frame. We know how many pears we will have each year by looking at the blossoms in the spring. I can tell you every year how many pears we will have… too many! 

Every harvest is different. This year I have found the time to do a lot with my pears. A couple of years ago, my daughter was born right as the pears ripened, so we relied on neighbors and friends and family to come and help themselves. Another year we were away in Europe for September/ October and came home to an empty tree, a ground covered in rotten fruit. Years ago, the cold hit hard and early and froze all the fruit on the branches, and to our amazement, most of the pears were still there in the spring for the birds to feast on. They were overjoyed. 

On a good, productive year, we will find time to pick as soon as the pears are ripe and ready, but even then, as hard as we try, there are always pears just out of our reach or windfalls that come down by the bucketful. Nobody likes to see waste, but luckily mother nature is amazing. Between feeding the birds, the wildlife, the soil, and our compost, I know that even if we don’t use them, all the pears are still going to good use.

Using up pears in baking recipes

I love baking! Baking is a great thing to do with lots of pairs. We have an Anjou Pear tree, and these are crisp when raw, so they cook really well and are delicious in baked goods. I grate them into my muffin recipes. I cut them into cubes and put them in a breakfast crisp.

Pears can be thinly sliced and made into a simple upside-down cake with a little cinnamon and coconut oil which is so yummy. They are also great in savory recipes too sliced pear and strong cheese on a little crostini is perfection! Go to Pinterest and search for pear recipes for a little inspiration.

Preserving pears for year-long enjoyment

Honestly, I don’t really love traditional canning these days. I wish I did, but as a mom of three, I just find it’s too much pressure (no pun intended) 

You can simplify things massively in four easy ways:

  • Freeze ’em – Chop them up, bag them, freeze them, and use them later. Although pears can be frozen in many different ways, my favorite way is in 40-percent sugar syrup, with some added lemon juice to prevent browning.
  • Breakfast Pear Sauce – Stew the pears down with some coconut oil, a little sugar, and some spices. You can make a delicious sauce and freeze it. One Sunday morning, when you have family pop in at pancake time, you’re going to be able to kick it up a notch with some handcrafted preserve. Win! 
  • Ferment – Do you ferment? Apparently, in Russia, it’s traditional to throw whole pears in with your fermenting sauerkraut. I haven’t personally tried this one yet, but I will report back once I have. 
  • Fruit Leather – Every kid loves it. Here is a great fruit leather recipe you can make with pears.

Sauté, blend, spread!

Yum! This is probably my all-time favorite way to eat our pears. This recipe for pear butter is easy, healthy, delicious, and keeps well in the fridge. If you’re wondering “What can I make with lots of pears?”…. make this sweet spread.

Here’s the recipe…

Easy pear butter recipe (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free)

  • 10 medium pears, cored and cubed
  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • 1 TBS local happy honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • a few cardamon pods
  • pinch of salt 
  • dash of vanilla

Step 1: Sauté all ingredients together on medium till the pears are a little caramelized and soft (at this point, you can divide the recipe in half if you would like to keep some chunky pear snacks). 

Step 2: Blend everything together until it becomes the consistency you want, I prefer it smooth and creamy. 

Step 3: Spread on toast, pancakes, and sweet potato toast, or use it as a dip for other slices of fruit or cheese. Yummy!

Store in fridge.

For some wild variety…

Are you a backyard forager? Here is a recipe for making wild-spiced pear butter. I haven’t yet collected my own foraged birch syrup to use as the sweetener, but it sounds like it’s the perfect *pairing*!

Pear tree blossoms in spring

Paint and craft 

There are endless crafts and kids’ activities to do with pears. Here are a few ways we use up extra pears in crafts in the autumn.

Fall pear painting activity for kids

Gather your beautiful family together for a paint and taste. Slice up some pears for snacks and set up your most delightful (or silly) looking pear. Give everyone a little canvas to paint on and see how incredible and unique each one turns out. My kids all range in age, and this was fun for everyone. 

Look how cool they all turned out!

Kids crafts using all the extra pears we have right now

Pear stamp art: Fall toddler nature activity

A great way to craft with Pears and toddlers is by creating a basic pear stamp. I would highly suggest a hard variety of pear for this activity, something really ripe and soft like a Bartlett is bound to get really messy and sticky. We made a pear rainbow and my toddler loved it! She is super into learning about colors right now so this was such a fun learning craft too.

Cut your pears in half, you can wash your pears between colors but it’s nice to have enough cut up so you don’t have to every time. Set up an art station, I use mats and aprons and lots of different colors of paint. Our favorite way to do stamping crafts is on a long roll of paper on the floor so that’s how we did this one. Use a kitchen cloth to dab off the excess moisture before you brush your paint on. Be sure to compost your used stamps. 

Ignore, handoff, give away

I am not going to lie, this is my default setting for dealing with too many pears. Sometimes you have to put in absolutely no effort at all and not feel bad at all. 

Check out all the cool things that happen when you…

Ignore the pears – We have fed the deer, we have fed the birds and the soil is really rich under our tree. There are at least 4 healthy little saplings that are growing under it and I am for sure going to gift those to some farmer friends who probably also want too many pears! Who doesn’t? 

What to do with too many pears

Hand the pears off – We have made friends, special friends. Those genuinely unique and amazing friends that you only see when the pears are ripe. You can have pear friends too!

Like Bob, who shows up with his ladder and an empty trunk and trades you ten bags of pears for a fresh Elk roast and a Thanksgiving Turkey. You rock Bob. 

Then there’s Jaxson, he comes every year he can, sometimes 4-5 times. He will pristinely clean up my stinkin’ fermenting, fallen, bruised pears from the ground underneath the tree so he can bring them home, sort them, and make a homemade pear moonshine (and he shares!)

Betty from the Church down the road comes and peeks through all my windows BEFORE knocking on my door, I don’t like it but I tolerate it because she is coming to pick pears for the community and she loves to share and she always offers to pay for them even though I would never accept. Betty’s so sweet. 

Give the pears away – Literally, give them away. I try really hard to dedicate a few afternoons each harvest to pick for pleasure. We take the ladders out on a sunny day and ask the kids and Grampa to help out.

One person climbs up the solid, ancient, wooden fruit-picking ladder, I try to imagine in my head how many people must have used this ladder in its lifetime, how many pears has this ladder seen? Too many?

So we take turns climbing to the top and tossing the pears down to eager hands below. Filling buckets and boxes and truly feeling the nostalgia of the harvest and seeing how it has brought us all together to laugh and sing and play in the crisp Autumn air. We each eat a pear right off the branch, it’s crunchy and sweet and cold which we all love!

These are the pears we give away, to friends and family, the local school breakfast program, neighbors, and the mail lady. I always think I will be organized enough to bag them up and hang them on the outside of our fence but I never do. I do manage to throw some buckets out on the sidewalk with a little sign saying to take some…

Will they get eaten? Will they find their way to a family in need? Maybe they will rot? Will a few get smashed by kids on their way home? Probably, but rest assured there are plenty more because let’s be honest, despite even my very best efforts, I still have too many pears. 

If you have found yourself in the same position this Autumn, I hope I have helped out… 


Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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