Monday, 25 February 2013

Recipe: Pears poached in saffron

I really hate pears. Which is a shame, as I have two pear trees in my garden, well, one either side, to be precise, belonging to my neighbours. These trees, one grandiose, the other spindly, provide a show all year round. White spring blossom, coquettishly adorning the dark branches, like a jazz singer on stage; all summer, the sluttish swaying in the heat and the rain; and autumn, ripe fruit drop onto my lawn to rot or be nibbled, by squirrels, foxes or slugs.
But I've found a solution: the granular texture, faintly unpleasant to my palate, simmered in leftover wine from guests, is an easy economical pud. I usually do it with red wine and mulling spices but this weekend, I had a bottle of white wine, probably too oxidised to drink, littering my work surface. A pinch of saffron, some sugar, a dollop of double cream and pistachios, forms a boozy amber dessert for a late winter weekend.

4 pears, not too ripe, peeled, leave stalk on
3/4 of a bottle of white wine
175g of sugar
Generous pinch of saffron
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
150ml of double cream
2 tablespoons of pistachios

Simmer the pears in the wine, sugar, saffron, cinnamon for 45 minutes or so.
Serve warm with a nub of double cream topped with pistachios.
Or preserve them with their syrup, in a jar, for an occasion when you have no dessert to offer guests. They will last at least a year.
Do you like pears? Do you wait around for that brief time frame when they ripen?

Canning workshop and dinner with Gloria Nicol at The Secret Garden Club, March 3rd. Book here:


  1. Well, I'm sorry, but I LOVE pears! I love them with blue cheese and toasted fruit loaf, and I love pickled pears with cold meat; poached pears in red wine; pears Belle Helene; pears any old way in fact. I have one Conference pear tree in my garden, but I wish it produced ten times as much fruit.
    you are right though - pears are only perfectly ripe for a period of about 10 minutes!

  2. Mark: As fruit go, pears are very moody and unstable. Bipolar even.
    However I love pear drops. Do you think there is any pear in pear drops?

  3. These look magnificent! I have been working on a pear and pistachio tart but not quite got the cinnamon level right yet. I wonder if a bit of saffron might be the key! xxx

  4. Saffron is the key to many things I find. I'm sticking it in everything. Not cheap though.

  5. These are just gorgeous. It's taken me a while to come back to pears- I believe they're one of the most pH neutral foods, so years ago when I was very ill I was put on an elimination diet for a stretch. I had to subsist for a few weeks on just plain carbohydrates, pears, gin and vodka until I could safely test adding other things back in. It took me a while to look at them the same way again.

  6. They look beautiful in the jars, I also have a pear tree in the garden. The fruit won't be going to waste this year!


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