Poached pears have such a lovely, graceful and elegant appearance. With their creamy white flesh and subtle sweetness, they are most agreeable to assuming a wide range of flavors… yet are especially delicious with the spices and warm notes we look to during the holidays… sweet wine, cranberry, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, vanilla, etc. And, perhaps the best part of poaching pears… other than their delicious flavor… is that they are relatively easy to make. If you can boil water, you can poach a pear!
Let’s learn how to poach pears with confidence!
1.Prep Your Liquid
If you’re not starting with a simple syrup (where your sugar is already dissolved in water), you will want to warm your poaching liquid until the sugar added has completely dissolved. Add selected spices. Set aside.
2. Prep Your Pears
Add one cut lemon, gently squeezed, to a large bowl of cold water. This is where you will hold your peeled pears (to keep them from browning) until you are finished peeling all pears and they are ready to be added to your poaching liquid. Carefully peel your pears, leaving stems intact, following their natural shape (we prefer to go from top to bottom). When finished with each pear, stand it up on your cutting board to see if it will hold. If not, carefully pare the bottoms to allow fruit to stand on its own. (This will help when it’s time to plate them and you want them to stand upright). Then gently place pear in lemon-infused water to hold.
3. Start Poaching Pears
Heat your poaching liquid over medium high heat, until sugar added is fully dissolved. Gently transfer pears, using a slotted spoon, to poaching liquid. You want the liquid to completely cover the pears. Because your pears may desire to pop up or bob, you may want to add a little weight to the top of your liquid to ensure that the pears stay immersed. We like using a lid that is smaller than the poaching pot… just big enough to keep the pears immersed but small enough to allow heat and steam to escape. Poach pears in a gentle rolling boil for approximately 20-30 minutes. To test doneness, gently poke pears with a paring knife. If the pears offer little to no resistance, then they are done.
4. Serve Pears Alone Or With Reduced Syrup
Remove pears from heat and allow them to cool in their poaching liquid. OR, if you are interested in serving pears with a bit of their poaching liquid you can reduce this liquid a bit to make a light, syrupy sauce. If this is preferred, gently transfer poached pears, using a slotted spoon, to a large bowl. Then strain poaching liquid into a separate bowl, discard all seasonings, and return strained liquid to the pot. Cook liquid, uncovered, over medium high heat (low to medium boil) until it reduces by about half. (The “syrupy” nature of this reduction is relatively light; however, reducing the liquid concentrates the flavors, making a nice accompaniment to the poached pears.)
5. Serving Suggestion
Serve poached pears in shallow bowls with a little poaching liquid. For a festive holiday look, dust pears with a bit of lime zest and serve over a bed of fresh pomegranate seeds.