Cranberry Pear Conserve with Ginger recipe and a canning swap

I can think of fewer places I would rather be on a chilly November afternoon than sipping tea and chatting with girls who have gathered together to swap jam, jellies and preserves.

That was how I spent part of my Sunday past, enjoying the warm hospitality of my good friend Melanie, while the boys stayed home to rake leaves. Clara came too, sitting primly on the sofa in her party dress and nibbling crackers so neatly that my heart swelled with emotion at the thought of all the tea parties we have ahead of us.

It was delightful to be a guest for once, and the practical aspect of the swap made it a not-to-be-missed event on my calendar. Read on for a few photos from the swap and a recipe for Cranberry Pear Conserve with Ginger, my contribution to the table.

A jam, jelly & preserve swap plays out much like a cookie swap, only guests bring canned goods instead of baked treats. First we taste the preserves, served with cheeses, crackers and toasts or scones, and accompanied by tea.

This is usually the part where canning tips are swapped, as well as confessional stories from the kitchen, usually of a batch gone horribly wrong. I loved how one guest stated that she gave the first (less satisfactory) batch to her boss, and brought the second, perfected round of spiced, sweet applesauce to our swap.

Swapping the jars takes just a few minutes, and you leave with the same amount that you brought, only now you have a beautiful selection of pickles, fruit butters, jams, conserves and sauces. Voila, an instant preserves pantry.

A few weeks ago at the market, I spotted two baskets of over-ripe pears that were discounted to $4 and I snatched them up, along with a knob of ginger. The pears were so far gone, I didn’t want them to sit another day and risk losing them.

That evening, I worked late into the night, mincing orange, grating ginger, and chopping pears for a quadruple batch of Cranberry Pear Conserve with Ginger. The recipe is adapted from Marisa’s Pear Ginger Conserve in her cookbook, Food in Jars, only I added cranberries, omitted the walnuts, and jacked up the ginger dosage for a little extra kick.

It’s delightfully chunky, and the tang of the cranberries balances out the sweetness of the pears quite nicely, not to mention the berries give the conserve a pretty festive color. I probably don’t have to point out that it would make a lovely holiday gift…

I serve this conserve with a soft chevre and a handful of my homemade fruit and nut crisps for the perfect holiday appetizer, although it would pass perfectly fine as jam for your Sunday brunch.

I’ll let you be the judge of how it is best enjoyed.

Cranberry Pear Conserve with Ginger

A sweet autumn preserve with a zing of ginger, perfect for pairing with a cheese plate.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Preserves
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 half pints
Calories: 559kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 6 cups ripe pears Bartlett or Anjou work best, washed
  • 1 whole orange scrubbed
  • 1 cup cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 2-inch cube fresh ginger


  • Core pears and roughly chop. Use a sharp knife or mandoline to slice the orange into thin slices, then chop the orange very finely.
  • In a large nonreactive pot, combine the chopped pears, cranberries, minced orange, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring often.
  • Meanwhile, zest and juice the lemon, and finely grate the ginger. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and grated ginger to the pot of pears and stir to combine.
  • Increase heat and bring to a slow boil. Cook until the blush-colored syrup turns translucent and the fruit is very soft, about 30-40 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and ladle into sterilized jars. Cover with lids and either process in a hot water canning bath for 10 minutes, or refrigerate for up to one month.


Calories: 559kcal | Carbohydrates: 146g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 397mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 128g | Vitamin A: 150IU | Vitamin C: 45.5mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 0.7mg


 Any final canning projects this season?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. The last thing that I do is cranberry jelly. It is mainly just for Thanksgiving, but it is so good homemade I might make some extra this year!

  2. I still need to make applesauce and pear sauce … guess I’d better get cooking (literally)! I *love* the idea of a canning swap. Great excuse to get together, and total bonus that your pantry is all the better for it at the end. This conserve looks amazing, too!

  3. I have two boxes of apples just waiting to be made into applesauce and possibly apple butter. With a shortage of apples this year, I don’t want to waste this blessing.

  4. What a lovely idea!!!

  5. Yum! This will be perfect for my fall cravings! What is that wonderful looking bread in the picture beside the conserve?

  6. Aimee – I love this idea! I spent yesterday afternoon at Seattle’s Backyard Barter Event, which is a food swap (canned goods, baked goods, home brew, garden seeds, etc.) on a larger scale. Came home and made cranberry sauce to mail to family and friends last night… I love how we are all enjoying the same types of things – all over North America! Thanks for the great party idea!

  7. This sounds delicious! And that bread looks great too. (:

  8. Such a good idea for a swap! I’ve actually never made jam – only stove top compotes that I keep in the fridge – but I’ll make a cranberry sauce in the next week or two. Nothing like using fresh cranberries.

  9. Lordy Mercy… Your offering & plate looks divine!
    What a wonderful idea that is for a canning goods swap.. Unfortunately, I dont know anyone in this area who cans.. I’m definitely going to remember it though.. who knows what will show up in the future. 🙂

  10. This conserve sounds awesome!! I hope I can pull together some pears and cranberries to make this this season. And I’m really excited about your fruit and nut crisps! 🙂 That canning swap sounds like so much fun! almost better than a cookie exchange. 🙂

  11. Oh, love this. I have about 1 cup of cranberries left in the refrigerator and this seems like the perfect home for them.

  12. Just to clarify, you use the orange with peel on?

    • I believe it’s the whole orange. The peel and pith has lots of pectin, I bet you need it to get the preserves to “jell” I’m going to toss the whole orange in the food processor and hope for the best. 🙂

    • Yep! The whole orange. Watch for seeds, though. Karen you may want to at least quarter it and dig out any seeds.

  13. What a perfect idea! And that bread in the first photo looks incredible – is there a recipe for that too? I’d love to pair this conserve with something yummy like that.

  14. This conserve looks delightful, and I am in love with the idea of a little jam swap – how fun!

  15. Oh my goodness, that conserve sounds delicious — all the best flavors of the season. I’m bookmarking this, thanks!

  16. That swap sounds so wonderful! I was so busy this fall that I completely missed out on canning 🙁 but there’s always next year!

  17. Melissa @ Baking For The Boys says

    I have wanted to throw a jam swap in my neighborhood for a few years, inspired by an UtHC post of yours. I have two canning projects I hope to complete by Christmastime. One is Caramel Pear Butter and the second is a Red Hot Candy Apple Jelly.

    PS: Miss your virtual jam swaps. 🙂

  18. Exciting to taste this kind of jam its a new kind of taste for me..

  19. I am putting together my shopping list for this recipe and I have a question about the 6c of pears. What does 6 cups of pears look like? Is it whole pears, or 6c chopped? If it’s whole pears, is their a weight associated with 6c of pears? I am sorry to sound dense, but I don’t want to use too many pears and then lose the cranberry flavor or throw off the chemistry and keep it from jelling. If anyone can help I would really appreciate it. Thanks in advance!

  20. I adore this idea, Aimee! One day, I’ll actually learn to can!

  21. 5 stars

    I am making my second batch of this pear cranberry conserve to give as gifts. (The first batch is just for me! And my family if I have to share. :)) It is really divine. We’ve tried it on many things but so far the far-and-away winner is putting in on southern-style biscuits for breakfast. There really is no comparison to other jellies or preserves. It’s that sweet and tart along with the savory of the biscuit that makes it phenomenal. So good, in fact that my husband wants me to bring some to South Carolina for his mother to taste at Christmas! No pressure there! 🙂 Actually, I’m confident because he adores it, so I know (fingers crossed!) she will as well.

    Thanks again!


  22. 5 stars

    I am so excited to try this…it will be my first canning experience! I will be giving these as gifts, and wanted to know if they need to be refrigerated after properly canning (I’m following the instructions for Ball jars). If not, it means I can ship them to my family! Also, how long does the conserve last once opened?

    Thank you so much!

  23. How much lemon zest? Why do you put the whole orange and not the lemon?

  24. 5 stars
    I just made this – though I swapped out the pears (didn’t have enough) and used some crisp apples. I then used an immersion blender – personal preference as I already have my cranberry sauce. What a fantastic melding of flavors… I almost don’t want to share 😉 thanks for a great recipe! Happy Holidays.

  25. 5 stars
    My family simply loves this conserve!!! This may sound odd, but it is wonderful on top of fresh homemade yogurt!

  26. How much ginger?

  27. Ok this looks SO GOOD!! SO many of my favorite things, all in one dish. And can we talk about how gorgeous these images are?! Pin, pin pin.. all the way through.

  28. 5 stars
    This was delicious and very pretty with all of the colors! I added some baked tofu and cut back the chilies to two because we like less heat. Such a beautiful recipe. Thank you Jeanine!

  29. Your list is great, After reading your post I have some ideas, I will definitely follow some of them. Thank you for sharing.Coffee Recipes

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