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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. Made this yesterday with the first pears from our tree. Halved the water and used pectin sugar but could not achieve a suitable set after a very long time of boiling. Taste is lovely but poor setting has spoiled it. If I did this again I would try with a very tiny amount of water

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Carol, Thanks for the feedback. I think that it’s time for me to revisit this recipe. It set for me but clearly there is a problem with setting.

  2. Lovely jam – I made it this weekend I peeled the pears as some of the skins were quite tough. I struggle with my hob to get the jam up to temperature even on the highest setting so once the sugar has dissolved in the jam pan I decant small amounts to a smaller pan & boil it very hard and although not ideal (as you may end up with two different batches of jam in one jam pot which may vary in colour and texture) the results were really lovely – perfect jam I don’t think it’s going to last long! 🙂 thanks for sharing

  3. To remove the glue mark left on jars after removing the label,I use a piece of wire wool with a small amount of washing up liquid and rub it over the glue. Then rinse.

  4. Heather Turner-Lunn

    After reading everyone’s comments, have halved the water and used sugar with pectin. Will let you know the results.

  5. Wish I’d read the comments before making the jam, so much water! I ladled some fluid out after boiling for about 30 mins and strained it through a sieve and put the bits back in, then I split the mixture into 2 pans and boiled hard to reduce. The smaller pan just caught slightly which I mixed in with larger pan and it added a caramelised flavour which I love but doubt I’ll be able to recreate! Lovely with cheese.

    • Fiona Nevile

      I think that I need to make this again. Like the idea of caramalised though!

  6. Mrs Ruth McLeod

    I’m writing this waiting for the jam to set, it’s taking alot longer than I expected. Certainly agree with one of the comments about having too much water

    • Fiona Nevile

      The water element is always a tricky one as I have found when using other people’s recipes! Thanks for your comment. Perhaps start with 2/3 rds of the amount and add more as necessary. All that I can say was that the water amount worked for me.

  7. Lovely recipe but way too much water – half the amount

  8. We have so many pears on our tree every year, which in the past have gone rotten as we haven’t used them. This year we decided we would attempt this recipe. We had never made jam before and had no idea what we were doing! But I’m pleased and slightly amazed, to report that this turned out to be the nicest tasting jam I have ever had! It was very easy to make, and everyone who has tried it loves it! The combination of pear and lemon works extremely well. Will definitely make this again.

  9. Linda Daley

    I am not sure why water is needed at all. There are only a few fruits that require water when making jam; figs and plums are the only 2 I am aware of. I make pear jam now with the Sure Jell recipe but I will try it without the pectin – it will just have to cook longer. Sounds yummy

  10. Elizabeth

    Have achieved a good ‘set’ with this receipt (fruit evenly distributed throughout the jars, and slight movement when jars are tipped to one side), by putting the lemon pips and the peel – once grated – into a muslin bag and suspending in the fruit and water while the pairs cooked (about 20 minutes). Once cooked I removed the bag and using a pair of heavy duty rubber gloves, squeezed the bag until it was almost dry, into the cooked pears. There was quite a lot of sticky pectin released. I used ordinary jam sugar (without added pectin) and I think the set is just right.

    • Elizabeth

      ………….forgot to add that I halved the water content – just half a litre. It just covers the pears enough to simmer them, and there is no point adding water just to have it run down the kitchen walls in order to get the jam to set.

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