Poached pears

Poached pears are really easy to make yet unimaginably delicious to eat – and I speak as one not overly fond of pears in the raw.  In this case I used fairly ripe conference pears, but I’m told William and, presumably, other varieties work just as well.


  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick, halved
  • Few cloves
  • 6 pears, peeled, but kept whole with stalk intact
  • Top quality vanilla ice cream, for serving


  1. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the black seeds and put in a large saucepan with the wine, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Cut each piece of pod into three long thin strips, add to pan, then lower in the pears.
  2. Poach the pears, covered, for 20-30 mins, making sure they are covered in the wine. The cooking time will very much depend on the ripeness of your pears – they should be tender all the way through when pierced with a cocktail stick. You can make these up to 2 days ahead and chill.
  3. Take the pears from the pan, then boil the liquid to reduce it by half so that it’s thick and syrupy.
  4. Serve each pear with the cooled syrup, a strip of vanilla, a piece of cinnamon and a few cloves.  Add a dollop of ice cream to each bowl.

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