• Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour
  • Makes 4 servings.


  • 4 medium-size firm pears (e.g., Anjou, Bartlett, Boscop - see photos below)
  • The pears should be just ripe, and still firm.
  • Canned pears are typically too soft.
  • 1 bottle robust red wine (e.g., Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot)
  • ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • peel (not zest) from 1 orange
  • peel (not zest) from 1 lemon
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 whole bay leaf


Left to right: Anjou, Bartlett ( = Williams), Boscop


  • Medium size sauce pan
  • Slotted spoon
  • Optional: melon baller
  • Medium size bowl
  • Fine-mesh sieve
  • Wooden spoon


  • Peel the pears - do not cut the pears - and place in medium size saucepan
  • Add the rest of the ingredients
  • If the pears are not completely covered, add some water until they are just covered
  • Put saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil
  • Reduce to a simmer, and over medium-low heat, cook for 15 minutes while occasionally stirring very gently
  • Remove pan from heat and let the pears cool in the liquid
  • With slotted spoon, move pears to a plate
  • The pears can be left whole, or cut in half lengthwise and cores removed with a melon-baller (and, if you want, the stem, using a paring knife)
  • Pour the poaching liquid through a sieve that is set over a bowl
  • Discard the solids, and return the liquid to the saucepan
  • Place over medium-high heat, and cook for about 45 minutes, until the liquid has been reduced to a syrup that coats the back of a wooden spoon
  • Let cool
  • Store pears in an airtight container until ready to serve


  • When ready to serve, arrange pears on a platter or on individual plates, and drizzle poaching liquid over them.
  • If you cut the pears in half lengthwise, you can (carefully) slice them lengthwise (not all the way through, but starting at least ½ -1 inch away from the stem end), and (carefully) spread them like a fan.

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©2000 M. Stewart