Quick Brandied Pears for the Holidays

If you are looking for a tasty way to use up some extra pears and make a special treat for the holidays, look no further than brandied pears.

Why I Made Brandied Pears

A few weeks ago I asked my husband to pick up some organic fruit. I like having a lot on hand for me and my daughter to snack on. My husband refuses to eat fruit. That’s a whole other story.

I didn’t think about the fact that he was grocery shopping at Costco. He came home with a massive bag of pears, a huge crate of grapes, over a dozen apples, and two big bunches of bananas.

The grapes we ate, the bananas we froze, and the apples are keeping just fine in the crisper. Try as we might, there was no way we were going to be able to eat all those pears before they went bad.

surplus pears rough and tumble farmhouse

The great thing about home canning is, there is always some fun way to preserve fruit for later.

I busted out my well worn copy of Ball’s Blue Book Guide to Preservation and dove in.

What are brandied fruits?

Brandied fruits have been a winter tradition for centuries. Alcohol has long been used as a preservation method. It is unknown if brandying fruits was done for preservation or as we do it today, for making a tasty holiday treat.

There are two types of brandied fruits.

Fermented Brandied Fruit

This is done by combining your fruits of choice with brandy and sugar. The fruit sits on the countertop for several weeks and is stirred regularly. The ferment can be ongoing as you save the liquid starter and add it to a new fresh batch of fruit once you’ve used up the old. This method doesn’t require any preservation methods beyond the fermentation.

Quick Brandied Fruit

For my pears I used the quick method. The quick method is making a simple syrup with brandy, softening pears, then processing them in a hot water bath canner.

The process goes fairly quickly and makes a nice holiday gift in a pinch.

canned pears rough and tumble farmhouse

What kinds of fruit can you brandy?

You are limited only by your imagination in terms of what fruits can be brandied. The most popular ones you’ll see are cherries, peaches, and pears.

How do I eat brandied pears?

Traditionally, brandied pears are eaten over ice cream or cakes. You can heat them up or use them at room temperature. Pears can also can be minced up and placed in cakes, muffins, etc. for baking.

Brandied fruits are often used as a garnish for holiday cocktails.

Or if you like them well enough just pluck them out of the jar and eat them as is.

Make sure you keep the syrup that the fruit is in. This makes a special sweet treat sipped in front of the fire place.

brandied pears and ice cream rough and tumble farmhouse

What kind of brandy should I use for brandied fruit?

It doesn’t matter if you use clear or dark brandy in terms of taste. The color of brandy only affects how they look. Personally I like the look of a caramel colored brandy syrup.

As to brands of brandy, truthfully I don’t think that matters much either. I typically follow the goldilocks method for making alcohol decisions. Bottom shelf was for broke college days, top shelf is a little too rich for my blood, mid-shelf is just right.

Equipment & Ingredients for Brandied Pears


This recipe comes from Ball’s Blue Book Guide to Canning. I didn’t have quite this many pears so I reduced the recipe by about a third. If you reduce the recipe, I advise not reducing the syrup by as much. When I cut the recipe by 1/3, I was short on syrup. I would only reduce the syrup by 1/2 next time.

  • 10 Pounds of pears
  • 6 Cups of Sugar
  • 4 Cups of Water
  • 3 Cups of Brandy


If you have basic canning equipment you are probably ready to roll!

  • Hot Water Bath Canner
  • Pint Canning Jars with lids and rings
  • Large Stock Pot
  • Wood Spoon
  • Ladle
  • Canning funnel

How to Make Brandied Pears

As always with fruit and veggies, give them a good wash.

Next, slice the pears in half. Core them and peel them.

cored and peeled pears rough and tumble farmhouse

Don’t waste the peels and cores. Compost them, feed them to pigs, or better yet you can use them to make fruit scrap vinegar!

To prevent the fruits from browning, dip them in ascorbic acid. Or you can add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to one quart of water and dip the pears in it for a few seconds.

bottled lemon juice for fruit preservation rough and tumble farmhouse

Next add the sugar and water to the large stock pot, stir it up, and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally as it continues to heat.

Once the syrup is simmering, place the pears in the syrup in a single layer and cook them for 2.5 minutes, flip them, and cook for another 2.5.

simmering pears rough and tumble farmhouse

Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Cook all the pears this way until they are slightly soft.

Next, keep the syrup gently simmering fifteen minutes until it has thickened.

Remove from heat and add stir in the brandy.

brandied pears rough and tumble farmhouse

Pack the pears into warm jars. I found that 1.5-2 pears would fit in a pint jar.

Pour the syrup over and fill to 1/4 inch headspace. Release any air bubbles, wipe the rim, and fit with a canning lid and ring.

Finally, process for 15 minutes in a hot water bath canner, then allow to cool in a draft free place.

canned pears rough and tumble farmhouse

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Brandied Pears - Rough and Tumble Farmhouse

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