Pear Vanilla Jam | Low Sugar

I made pear vanilla jam for the first time this summer and was pleasantly surprised at how well pears and vanilla “pair” together! If you haven’t tried this combination yet, you’re in for a big treat! 🙂

I followed a recipe on the Pomona’s Universal Pectin website – except I used less sugar, which is a safe allowable alteration. I also substituted organic vanilla extract for the vanilla bean pod, another approved alteration.

You can either freeze or can this recipe. Please note that per the folks at Pomona, this recipe was developed by a “master canner.” They assured me that the acidity of the final product is safe to process in a boiling water bath; however, it wasn’t officially kitchen lab tested.

Half pint jars of pear jam; whole pears arranged to side
We had a decent crop of golden brown pears this summer, and I put up 10 half-pints of jam. Unfortunately big noisy crows ate most of our red pears before we got around to picking them!
Box of Pomona Pectin

Why do I use Pomona’s Universal Pectin? It’s a cleaner product when compared to the other commercially available pectins on the market. In addition, you are able to reduce the amount of sugar when using this pectin and still end up with a properly gelled jam. And no, I do not make any money by promoting their product (I wish!).

Please note that the box contains two different pouches. One contains calcium powder for making calcium water, and the other contains the pectin.

Pomona’s Universal Pectin contains only 100% pure citrus pectin, which is vegan, gluten free, and GMO free. There are no additives, preservatives, sugar, or dextrose. There are no corn or apple by-products.

The monocalcium phosphate powder that comes in its own packet when you purchase Pomona’s is a food-grade rock mineral source of calcium made up of two minerals, calcium and phosphorous.

Pomona’s universal pectin

Method Overview

  • Peel, core, chop pears; mash
  • Bring mashed pears, lemon, vanilla, and calcium water to a boil
  • Add sugar/pectin mixture
  • Freeze or process in a boiling water bath
Peeling, coring, cutting, and mashing pears for pear jam recipe

To safely can jam, you need to add bottled lemon juice (not freshly squeezed lemons). Why? Bottled lemon juice is consistently at 5% acidity; freshly squeezed lemons may or may not be at that level. Adding 1/4 cup of 5% acidic lemon juice to this recipe is what makes it safe to can in a boiling water bath. Fortunately, these days you can buy pure organic lemon juice without any additives. I use the Lakewood brand but there are probably others available. I like that they offer their lemon juice in a 12-ounce bottle in addition to a larger size.

What is a maslin pan?

It’s a large pan with a heavy bottom, that evenly distributes heat. This prevent hot spots and scorching. The flared shape encourages evaporation, which comes in handy when reducing liquids from jam, tomato puree, and more.

Do you need a maslin pan to make jam?

If you do not have a maslin pan, use another heavy bottomed pan so that the jam won’t scorch when boiling. Stirring often also helps.

Half pint jars of pear jam; whole pears arranged to side
Print Recipe
5 from 12 votes

Pear Vanilla Jam| Low Sugar

If you've never had pear and vanilla jam before, you're in for a real treat!
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American
Keyword: low sugar jam
Servings: 5 half pints


  • potato masher
  • maslin pan, or other heavy bottomed pot


  • 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder (from box of Pomona brand pectin)
  • Approximately 3-1/4 pounds ripe pears (4 cups mashed)
  • 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar
  • 3 teaspoons Pomona brand pectin


  • If you plan on canning this recipe, prepare your jars, lids, bands, canning pot, etc. following an approved canning practice such as outlined by the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
  • Put 1/2 teaspoon of calcium powder into a small jar with 1/2 cup of water. Shake until combined and set aside. You will only use 1/2 teaspoon of this prepared calcium water for this recipe; the rest can be refrigerated for another day of making jam.
  • In a small bowl, stir the sugar and pectin powder together. Set aside.
  • Peel, core, cut up, and mash each pear. I find it is easier to mash them on my cutting board.
    You need 4 cups of mashed pears for this recipe.
  • Add the measured mashed pears, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon of calcium water to a maslin pan, or other heavy bottomed pot; stir well.
    Place over medium-high to high heat; stir often. When it reaches a rolling boil, stir in the sugar/pectin mixture. Keep stirring until the sugar/pectin dissolves and it returns to a boil, then remove from the heat.
  • Boiling water bath
    Follow an approved canning procedure and process for 10 minutes. Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.
    You can freeze jam in half-pint or pint jars. Only fill to the "fill line" etched into the mason jars. This headspace allows for expansion. Alternatively, use a vacuum sealer to prepare flat packages for your freezer. I created another post, complete with video demonstration, explaining how to freeze liquids using a vacuum sealer.


  • If you are freezing this jam, you can use freshly squeezed lemon juice (or bottled). If you are canning this jam stick with the bottled lemon juice as previously explained.
  • You can mash the pears fully or leave them a bit chunky.
  • Store the leftover calcium water in the refrigerator to be used for future jam making.

If you enjoy Pear Vanilla Jam | Low Sugar, you may also like my Low-Sugar Freezer Raspberry Jam recipe.


  • Enilse Sehuanes-Urbaniak
    October 18, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    5 stars
    If you love pears this will be a big TREAT! I normally don’t make jams and did not have the calcium powder, so I used 1 and a half tablespoon of Kudzu root powder, adding it as the very last ingredient with just a little water (next time i will use 2 T) so I guess I made more of a compote- not canning or freezing. I also substituted Vanilla bean powder that I had on hand and am trying to use up, instead of the liquid extract. the flavor was exceptional, but Judy’s version in photo is MUCH prettier, since mine came out a little murky colored, so extract is the way to go. I love the tip of mashing the pears on the cutting board ( with a potato masher- easy!!). I left pears somewhat chunky. Am enjoying the pear jam/ compote with wild blueberries as an afternoon snack or a small bowl of it as a light desert, after dinner. Thanks Judy! I will make again and maybe even serve to company.

    • Judy DeLorenzo
      October 19, 2021 at 9:12 am

      Hi Enilse! Isn’t the combination of pears and vanilla divine? The calcium powder comes in the box of Pomona pectin. It sounds like you didn’t use pectin either?

  • Bonnie
    December 28, 2023 at 1:45 pm

    This sounds lovely! Unfortunately, I was looking for really low sugar, or sweetener. (I was recently diagnosed pre-diabetic. Some recipes use concentrated fruit juice to sweeten, but diabetics can’t have that either.) Will keep looking, as someone just gifted us pears for Christmas.


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