Loving those Pears!
As excited as I was to see so many pears growing very well on my pear tree, I am saddened that I have been harvesting them for the last few weeks. We have shared our pears with friends and family, near and far. They made it all the way to Sault Ste Marie to be shared with my uncle who last year guided us as to how we should trim up the tree and also the other uncle in Cambridge who did the trimming for us. Locally I’ve passed pears along to friends that I hope have enjoyed them raw and cooked. I’m thinking if I haul in a bumper crop again next year I’ll have to bring them to the market.
So yes there was excitement but the sadness of the last few pears being picked is upon me. There are still small little fruits growing but I know they won’t be able to reach their full mature ripe pear because the cooler evenings are upon us. So yesterday my husband went out to pick the last few large pears, many of which were near the top of the tree where I can’t reach and brought them into the kitchen. A few have already been enjoyed as is, but I wanted to give my pears a farewell for the season I hadn’t done yet.
Luckily I’m a small time “farmer” and I use that term loosely, please I only wish I could have the orchards of fruit that real farmers have. Which means that we will have seasonal local pears around still for awhile thanks to them.
Pears are such a unique fruit because when they aren’t fully ripe they are almost crunchy like an apple but when they are ripe and tender they are as juicy as a peach. And full of fibre, with skin on, a medium pear has about 4 g of fibre. I’ll take that as a snack any day! Have you tried them in muffins, or crisps or roasted? All the ways you can cook pears only showcases their sweet flavour and tender texture.
My pear tree is a Bartlett, well I have 2 pear trees. The other lesser know tree is a French Bartlett so a smaller version that has slightly reddish skin. We don’t talk about that one too much because it didn’t give us any fruit for a couple of years and well this year, there is fruit on it, they don’t look so pretty-but once the skin is peeled away the tasty flesh is revealed. I am hoping that the tree will gain strength and catch up with our larger Bartlett tree that this year produced about a dozen baskets of pears. Fingers and toes crossed!
So how was I going to give them a send off? Well how I like to give a send off to anyone I love, with a toast. This toast the pears would be soaking in-poaching to be exact.
Poaching is a such an amazing technique to cook food in. The liquid it cooks in is flavoured so that the food put in absorbs it to make it max out in flavour. And this flavour was going to be spiced wine. You don’t need the most expensive wine you have but you do need a fruity wine to accentuate the fruit flavour of the pear. So lighter red wines are what I recommend and the bonus is the pears absorb the colour of the wine too. So gorgeous to present as a dessert.
Now what makes this doable and easy is that you can make them ahead and enjoy them warm or cold. All they need is a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to serve and enjoy the sweet elixir you create in the saucepan with the wine and pears. Keep this one for friends and family that enjoy a comforting, homemade dessert or special treat made by a loved one. They are a guaranteed winner and a demand for seconds!
Wine Poached Pears with Ice Cream
You can make these pears up to 3 days ahead and store them in the reduced syrup. The syrup will thicken as it chills so warm it over low heat to serve with the pear. Serve these pears on their own or with angel food cake, cookies or a crumble of blue cheese and nuts for something a touch savoury.
1 bottle (750 mL) Gamay or Pinot Noir red wine
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 4-inch (10 cm) strip orange rind
4 whole cloves or 2 star anise
4 firm, ripe Bartlett pears
2 cups (500 mL) vanilla ice cream
In saucepan bring wine, sugar, cinnamon, orange rind and cloves to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel pears; cut in half and using small spoon or melon baller remove core. Add pears to wine mixture and simmer, turning occasionally for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Gently remove pears with slotted spoon onto platter. Boil wine syrup for about 15 minutes or until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups. Discard cinnamon stick, orange rind and cloves.
Divide reduced wine syrup among 8 shallow soup bowls. Place 1 pear half in centre of each bowl and top with ice cream to serve.
Makes 8 servings.
Tip: Look for firm ripe pears by smelling them for fresh pear aroma and that they yield gently when pressed.