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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Poached Pears: Recipe

It's pear season right now so if you haven't had a poached pear in a while, treat yourself to a taste of Autumn. Pear season kind of snuck up on me this year. I was surprised to find a dozen Seckel pears in my organic produce delivery last week. I had never seen these little gems before. They are tiny little pears that fit in the palm of your hand. Apparently they are a hybrid of an Asian and a European pear and were developed in the 1800's by a Pennsylvania farmer. Fortunately they were a bit firm which makes for perfect poached pears. Which in turn makes for a scrumptious dessert.

Poached pears are such a no-brainer to make. You infuse them using a mixture of flavors you love and the end result is something sweet and juicy that melts in your mouth. This batch was so delicious that Lee and I ate all of them in one sitting! Actually there was one leftover which is lucky since I needed to take another picture.

There is really nothing to this recipe, it's more a technique than anything else. Choose whatever flavorings you like. I chose vanilla bean because I like the flavor and the texture of the little seeds. I also chose ginger, lemon, honey and maple syrup. But you could just use a couple of those and I'm sure it would still be delicious. Or throw in some cinnamon sticks or cloves. Once the pears are cooked, you could slice them in half, top with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce to make the classic dessert Poire Belle-Helene. Or you could serve them with crumbly butter cookies. But really it's not necessary. They are perfectly good by themselves.

Poached Pears


12 Seckel or 6 Bartlett pears
1/2 lemon, sliced and seeds removed
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (omit if you plan to serve cold)
pinch salt
1 Tablespoon candied ginger, optional
1 vanilla bean, split into two lengthwise


Put the lemon, honey, maple syrup, butter, salt, ginger and vanilla bean into a deep saucepan or pot. The vessel should be much higher than the pears.

Peel the pears leaving the stem. Trim the bottom of the pear so it will stand up properly. Place the pears in the pot and add enough water so that they are submerged half way. Simmer with the pan covered for 10 minutes. Remove lid and simmer another 10 minutes or until the pears are tender when you poke them with a knife. Remove the pears and reduce the liquid to desired consistency. You can make a syrup or even a caramel sauce if you continue to cook it for about 15 minutes. Strain the syrup and pour over the pears before serving. Serve warm, omit butter if you wish to serve cold.