Poached Pears in Red Wine

Poached pears are a lovely light dessert for spring and summer – red wine results in a glorious colour and they taste delicious – nothing like the canned variety you buy – and it’s so easy. The only real work involved is peeling the pears. I made poached pears for a friend’s recent party and the guests recalled memories of childhood when their granny used to do this. I realised that in our modern world we are depriving the next generation of many of the simple food pleasures of life. So here it is – a simple version of pears in red wine that you can introduce and share with your family and friends. This keeps in the fridge for a a few days. If you want to get a little more specialised you can add a vanilla bean and whole aniseed stars. 

Serves 6-8.

12 firm pears – its best if they are not yet ripe
2 cinnamon sticks
lemon zest strips from half a lemon or orange
1.5 cups sugar
3 cups red wine (one bottle)
1 cup water
2 vanilla beans, optional
3 aniseed stars, optional

  1. Peel pears with a potato peeler, leaving them whole with the stalk attached. Remove the eye at the bottom.
  2. Put all ingredients except pears into a pot with a 27cm (11inch) diameter.  Heat gently until sugar is dissolved and syrup boils. Boil for 1 minute.
  3. Add peeled pears, trying to submerge them in the syrup as much as possible. I lie them on their side. Bring back to the boil and poach gently for about 20minutes. Turn pears over so that other side is submerged in the syrup and poach a further 20 minutes.
  4. I then leave the pears in the syrup overnight turning after a few hours so that they can absorb the deep red colour of the wine. This is of course optional but it does look good.
  5. Remove pears and place in a wide white bowl. Boil syrup rapidly till it thickens to a coating consistency. Pour syrup over pears. Cool.
  6. Serve cold with creme fraiche, yoghurt or whipped cream.
  7. Yum.
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