Poached pears

PoachedPearsNiki, a wonderful and extremely talented friend of mine sent me this recipe for my 26th birthday earlier this year. Niki runs Mazi Mas (meaning ‘with us’ in Greek), a “roaming restaurant that showcases the culinary talents and diverse cultural heritages of migrant women in London.” After a Sri Lankan Thanksgiving and a Brazilian-inspired holiday feast, you should definitely check out what they’ve got coming up next.

This is a recipe of her mother’s, from the great Julia Child. She sent it with the suggestion to use up any leftover syrup as a base for cocktails made with fresh ginger, lime and gin – something I would’ve tried if we hadn’t scoffed the whole lot.

Huge thanks to Niki for sharing this recipe with me – it was perfect!


Serves – as many as you want, just allow one pear per person

Cooking time: 30 minutes (mostly simmering, which can happen while you eat dinner)


Pears a-poaching

Pears a-poaching

What you need

3 or more ripe, firm, unblemished pears (actually, anything will do if you cut out the bad parts)

1 qt water with 2 tbsp lemon juice (for keeping pears from discoloring)

2 cups red wine in a 3 qt pan

zest and 2 tbsp juice from 1 lemon

3/4 cup sugar

1 stick or 1/2 tsp cinnamon

How to make them

  1. Peel, core and slice pears, dropping them into the lemon water.
  2. Simmer for 5 minutes:  wine, cinnamon, zest and 2 TB lemon juice, to bring out flavors.
  3. Add pears and poach at just below simmer until tender when pierced with a knife. Liquid should cover pears.
  4. Let cool in syrup.
  5. Serve warm, cool, or chilled.
The possibilities of syrup...

The possibilities of syrup…

Niki’s tips

  • Proportions of sugar to liquid: 6 TB per cup or 1-1/2 cup per quart
  • Even unripe pears will eventually get tender if cooked long enough, and they become deeply coloured that way
  • If you skimp on sugar it won’t be a proper syrup, but still good
  • Large pieces of zest, as opposed to grated, are easier to separate from the pears when serving