The Cottage Smallholder

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Pear and Lemon Jam Recipe

pear hanging on our pear tree

A pear hanging on our pear tree

I spent ages trying to find a recipe for pear jam without success. One day moseying in the recipe section of Waitrose, I spotted a copy of the best selling Italian cook book The Silver Spoon. Leafing through the pages I found a recipe for pear jam. It was hard to justify buying yet another cookbook, so I memorised the ingredients. Somewhere between Waitrose and our kitchen I added one more.

I made an excellent jam, not too sweet. A lemony taste with tiny explosions of pear. Everyone that tasted it wanted the recipe. It’s our favourite jam, good for breakfast or with a mild soft cheese.

The problem was that I hadn’t written the recipe down and wasn’t sure of the volume of water. When I returned to Waitrose “The Silver Spoon” was no longer on the shelves. Finding the book became a real mission. I saw it advertised on hoardings in the London tube but never found it in a shop. One happy day, I saw “The Silver Spoon”, twinkling from the supermarket shelves. I snapped it up and rushed home.

I was astonished to find that water was not an ingredient of the jam! I tried several versions, with different amounts of water, and this is by far the best.

Pear and Lemon Jam Recipe
Recipe Type: Jam jelly preserve
Author: Fiona Nevile
Inspired by a half remembered recipe in “The Silver Spoon”
  • 2 kilos (4 and 1/2 pounds) of pears, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 3 medium lemons (strained juice and zest)
  • 1 kilo (5 and 1/4 cups) of granulated jam sugar
  • 250ml water


  1. Prepare the pears and place in a large covered bowl, to stop them browning.
  2. Remove the zest from the lemons carefully to avoid adding the bitter pith. Set zest aside.
  3. Squeeze the lemon juice and strain.
  4. Add the water, chopped pears, lemon zest and juice to a large heavy bottomed saucepan.
  5. Simmer very gently until the pears are just soft.
  6. Pour in the sugar and stir over a medium/low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  7. Bring the heat up to a rolling boil (what is a rolling boil? See Tricks and tips below).
  8. Allow to boil hard for ten minutes before testing for a set.
  9. If it has not reached setting point (what is setting point? See Tricks and tips below) continue to boil rapidly, checking for a set every four minutes or so (set the timer for this).
  10. When the jam has set remove from the heat.
  11. Allow the jam to stand for a few minutes and pour into warmed sterilised jars (how do I sterilise jars? See Tricks and tips below).
  12. Cover with screw top lids or wax disks and cellophane tops.
  13. Label when cold.
  14. Store in a cool dry place.

Tricks and tips:

Jam set or ‘setting point’
Getting the right set can be tricky. I have tried using a jam thermometer but find it easier to use the following method.

Before you start to make the jam, put a couple of plates in the fridge so that the warm jam can be drizzled onto a cold plate (when we make jam we often forget to return the plate to the fridge between tests, using two plates means that you have a spare cold plate).

Return the plate to the fridge to cool for approx two minutes.
It has set when you run your finger through it and leave a crinkly track mark.

If after a few minutes the cooled jam is too liquid, continue to boil the jam, testing it every few minutes until you have the right set.

The jam is far more delicious if it is slightly runny.

There are other indicators the the jam is setting, the jam will start to coat the back of the spoon and the sides of the saucepan.

Sterilising the jars
We collect jars all year round for our jelly, chutney and jam making sessions. I try to soak off labels and store the clean jars and metal plastic coated lids in an accessible place.

The sterilising method that we used is simple. Just before making the jam, I quickly wash and rinse the jars and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c (320F) 140c fan assisted).

When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The jars will stay warm for quite a while.

I only use plastic lined lids for preserves as the all-metal lids can go rusty. I boil these for five minutes in water to sterilise them. If I use Le Parfait jars, I do the same with the rubber rings.

What is a rolling boil?
This is when you boil your jam (or jelly) continuously, very hard. This gradually evaporates the water, enabling the jam to set.

  Leave a reply


  1. Nick Salford

    Hi have a 2k batch in prperation at the momet half was prepped with very ripe pears that had soaked in the sugar lemon juice liquid for three days the pears practicly dissolved.

    I have noe added a kilo of freashly picked hard pears from the same tree.

    i also squeased out he luice from the peels in the hope it will add more pectin

    will update tomorrow with result taste so far is scuumptious

  2. Jane Gilbey

    Hi me again sorry it’s very late and not concentrating. I meant to say the jam sugar was a high pectin one for low pectin fruits.

  3. Jane Gilbey

    Hi I have followed the recipe using a mixture of Comference pears and Williams which were softer. I used Jam sugar with pectin and had it on a hard boil for over half an hour in the end. It seemed to have too much liquid although I measured it as a litre as the recipe stated. What temperature is the setting point or does it occur when it’s been boiling for a certain length of time? I didn’t have any Pectin but it was in the jam so added a bit extra sugar. Still it wouldn’t set. Ii put it in jars in the end as it looked like a jammy consistency having reduced the liquid for ages hard boiling. It also tastes very sweet and syrupy to me but nice. What do you think I may have done wrong?

  4. bill Thomason

    Hi all,if your jams are not setting,boil a bit longer and add some pectin,this REALLY helps. You can get pectin from any supermarket that has a home made wine shelf or from a home made wine shop,it goes under the name of ‘PECTOLASE’ (Cheap,because you only need a teaspoonful for each batch! )
    Happy Jamming.

  5. Rashelle Maltz-Jones

    Just made 2 jars with my friend’s hard French pears at her gite in the Languedoc region. Can’t say mine set either but boiled to a semi-dry finish, the thickness of the pears have made a delicious compote to have with anything.

  6. Ann Joyner

    It’s not all wasted – just experiment and add to meat dishes; stir into natural yougurt or serve with icecream for a delicious suite.

  7. Linda mardling

    Have had a bit of a disaster. Jam seemed to have reached set point so bottled it but still too runny now cold. Is there any way to salvage it or is it all wasted? Shame as it tastes and looks wonderful.

    • Caroline

      if the Jam has not set after being bottled, pour Jam back into pan and boil to setting point again. resterilise the jars. proceed as before. good luck

    • Tony Lee-Wright

      I had the same problem of not setting. My “theory” is 2-fold: too much water, and need to use a sugar with added pectin. It is the pectin that helps the jam to set, and there is very little in pears. Anyway, I will use my jam on porridge or pancakes or with cheese – as it tastes delicious!!

  8. Hi

    I am so pleased to have found your recipe for pear and lemon jam. We have had some very strong winds and my pear tree snapped in half so I have had to harvest the pears and wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. And hey presto you have the answer. Will let you know the outcome. Thanks

  9. I made a small batch of this last Saturday – 2 packham pears, about 400g after peeling and slicing + 200ml water + 200g caster sugar + sieved juice of nearly 1 lemon plus zest.
    But it is still runny and not jelling… I am using it for flavoring plain yoghurt.
    The pears I used were not hard and crunchy – on the soft juicy side. So were they too ripe? I want to try again, but I’d like to know what went wrong so I don’t repeat the mistakes…

    I would really like to have jam results that others here were raving about! Please help!! Thank you!

  10. Hi
    This sounds interesting and I like the fact that some people have commented that it is on the tart side. I find a lot of jams too sweet so this sounds great. Will try this really soon. But one question please – your recipe says Jam Sugar. Will it be ok to use regular caster sugar since there’s so much lemon? You did say jam sugar/preserving sugar (same thing?) leaves a synthetic taste….

    thanks for your recipe and advice

    • Erna Rae

      I like using caster sugar for jams and jellies as it dissolves really quickly.

      • Erna Rae

        I now use granulated sugar for jams, jelly and marmalade as it is so much cheaper.

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