The colder months are known for many wonderful ingredients, but there is one that I can’t live without: Royal Riviera Pears. They are indescribably juicy, sweet, and bursting with flavor! No holiday season is complete without a box of them. While no one can fault a person for eating them on their own, one of my favorite ways to prepare Royal Riviera Pears is to poach them in simple syrup.
How to Poach Pears – Pick your Flavors
The beauty of this method is that you can adapt and customize the poaching liquid in many ways. I like to keep things simple by making a poaching liquid from sugar and water. Then, infuse that with warm holiday spices, like whole cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, and vanilla bean.
Feel free to use whatever ingredients you have in your pantry to infuse your poaching liquid. Cardamom pods, citrus peel, fresh ginger, and whole cloves are other great options. You can even substitute a portion of the water with red wine, white wine, or brewed tea. Merlot or Riesling are great wine options, and produce a decadent dessert. Chai tea also works great in this simple recipe for a cozy flavor. Have fun and get creative!
How to Poach Pears – Picking your Pears
One important thing to keep in mind when poaching pears is to always use firm, yet slightly ripe pears. If the pears are too ripe, they will become mushy. I prefer to leave them whole with the stem on, coring them from the bottom end with a melon baller, as this makes for beautiful presentation.
Poached pears can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week and are delicious served on their own with whipped cream, yogurt, or ice cream. You can also slice them and add them to salads, or use them in other desserts like a pear tart. The poaching liquid can be reserved and reused for poaching additional pears, or used as a simple syrup in fall-themed cocktails. Try using it in a pear-flavored Moscow Mule!
How to Poach Pears
- 6 cups cold water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise pod
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 vanilla bean, scraped)
- 2 strips lemon peel (without the pith), plus half a lemon
- 5 Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears, firm yet slightly ripe
- Combine the cold water and granulated sugar in a medium pot (roughly 3-quart capacity). Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise pod, vanilla bean paste, and lemon peel. Or, other flavors of your choice.
- Peel the pears, leaving the stem on, and gently rub each pear with the lemon half to prevent the pears from oxidizing. Using melon baller or small paring knife, core the pears from the bottom end – this will allow you to keep the pear in whole form for presentation.
- Using a large spoon, gently lower the cored, whole pears into the poaching liquid. The poaching liquid should almost completely cover the pears.
- Return the poaching liquid to a low simmer, cover the surface of the pot with a parchment round, and simmer the pears, occasionally flipping them during the cooking process, for about 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. Remember that you will be cooling the pears in the liquid, so do not overcook. You can test whether the pears are done by piercing the pear (through the bottom end) with a paring knife. The pears should be tender, yet not at all mushy.
- Cool the pears to room temperature in the poaching liquid. Serve or transfer the pears to a large container and refrigerate for up to one week. The poaching liquid can be kept, discarded, or used to store the poached pears. Try reusing the liquid for poaching other pears or as a simple syrup in cocktails, etc.