Apples and pumpkins seem to get a lot of hype this time of year. But now is the perfect time to start using pears in your recipes as well! One of the things that I love about pears is how versatile they are. You can eat them fresh when they’re perfectly ripe, on their own or cut into slices with a smear of nut butter. You can roast them, poach them, puree them, juice them, add them to quick breads, turn them into pear butter, or pickle them. They can be crunchy & crisp or creamy & buttery, depending on which of the 10 different varieties of USA pears is your favorite.
I personally love to poach them. They become tender and juicy, picking up the flavors of whatever poaching liquid you use. For these apple cider & ginger beer poached pears, I added vanilla bean, cinnamon, star anise and allspice to the sweet/tart cider and the spicy ginger beer. A touch of honey enhances the fall flavors and makes the final reduction more syrupy. I love this combination of flavors, but you can get creative and use your favorite flavors for your own recipe. Try tea, bourbon, coconut milk, beer, coffee, muscato or the traditional red wine.
These are terrific on vanilla bean rice pudding for a decadent treat (rice pudding recipe below). But if you make a big batch of these cider & ginger beer poached pears, you can also use them in your every day meals. Add them to yogurt or granola. Dice them up and make a chutney for pork. Serve a scoop of vanilla ice cream with one of these poached pears. Warm a slice in the microwave for an afternoon snack. Use the syrup to flavor your tea.
A quick note on buying pears: Do you know how to check a pear for ripeness? I always thought you squeeze the body to make sure it yields to gentle pressure. NOPE! You check the neck! Because of the way they’re shaped, if you buy a pear by the time the thickest part is ripe then the insides will be overripe. The neck ripens at the same rate as the inside of the pear, so it’s a better indicator of ripeness.
However, if you guess wrong about the ripeness of your pears, poaching is a great way to transform underripe fruit into a luscious, sweet treat. The cooking time may take a little longer than the recipe calls for, but if you’re patient you can turn rock-hard pears into tender, flavorful slices of fall deliciousness!
- 3 of your favorite USA pears (I used Green Anjou)
- 1 bottle of ginger beer (about 275 mL)
- 3 cups of dry, hard apple cider (about 2.5 bottles). Try to buy one with as few additives as possible, including spices. We're going to add our own cinnamon, etc. You can also use regular cider (non-alcoholic) if you prefer, but omit the honey as it has more sugar in it.
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 vanilla bean, split with beans removed. Reserve the pod and beans.
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 whole star of star anise
- 1/2 tablespoon whole allpsice berries (optional)
- Prepare the pears. Wash them, quarter them lengthwise, and cut out the core. Use a vegetable peeler to carefully remove the skin. Choose a pot or saucepan large enough for all of the pear quarters to sit in one layer.
- Combine the ginger beer, cider, honey, vanilla beans & pod, cinnamon, star anise and allspice berries in your cooking vessel. Add the pears. If the liquid doesn't cover the pears, add more cider or water until it covers them.
- Bring the liquid to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, rotating the pears every few minutes to prevent discoloration from exposure to the air. Simmer for 25-35 minutes, until you can pierce the thickest part of the pear with a fork without any resistance. The amount of time needed will vary based on the type of pear you use, how big the pieces are, and how ripe they are, so start checking at 25 minutes and check back every few minutes after that. If your pears are very underripe, it may take longer than 35 minutes.
- Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set aside. Leave the liquid on the stove, and turn the heat up to bring the liquid to a rolling boil. Boil until reduced by about 1/3, or down to a thin syrup, about 15 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth or a thin mesh strainer and discard solids.
- Store the pears in their poaching liquid in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Serve a pear quarter over a serving of vanilla bean rice pudding. Drizzle with a bit of the syrup.
- These pears are also delicious over yogurt, with granola, on ice cream, with pound cake, and over a spice cake (ooh, or a chocolate spice cake!). They're incredibly versatile, so make a big batch!
- They also taste even better as they sit in the poaching liquid, so you may want to make them 1 or 2 days in advance.
- 6.5 cups of whole milk
- 1 cup short-grained rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
- 1/2 cup sugar (use vanilla bean sugar for extra vanilla-y goodness!)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 vanilla bean, split, beans removed. Reserve the pod as well.
- 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup cream
- For serving: serve with a poached pear quarter and drizzle of the reduced poaching liquid. If you decide not to make the pears, top with a dusting of cinnamon.
- Combine the milk, rice, sugar, butter, vanilla beans & pod, and salt in a medium-size pot. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer, stirring often with a spatula, until the rice is tender and cooked through. Be sure to scrape the bottom so the rice doesn't burn and stick to the bottom of the pot. This should take about 25 minutes, maybe longer if your rice is older (you may also need to add more milk if the mixture gets too dry). Turn off the burner but leave the pot on the stove. Stir in the vanilla extract. We're going to use the residual heat to make it more custardy by adding the eggs.
- Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. Now we're going to warm the eggs so that they don't scramble when we add them to the hot pot. While whisking, slowly add 1 cup of the hot rice mixture. Slowly add another cup.
- Pour the egg mixture into the pot on the stove. Stir well to incorporate the egg. Add the cream and stir.
- Serve warm or cold.
- Refrigerate and eat within 4 days.
- I use less sugar in my rice pudding when I know I'm going to serve it with something sweet, like the poached pears and their syrup. If you're just serving the rice pudding by itself, you may wish to add another 1/4-1/2 cup of sugar.
One year ago: pumpkin floral centerpiece. Turn a pumpkin into a vase!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.