Poached Pears with Cinnamon and Orange Zest

Fruit poached in syrup, wine or other flavoured liquid makes an easy and versatile dessert. In autumn use pears and plums, in spring rhubarb and gooseberries, and in summer apricots, peaches and nectarines. When good fresh fruit is not available, try dried apricots, prunes and pears poached in a fragrant tea such as jasmine or rose congou.


  • 6 large Conference or firm Williams pears
  • 50 g (2 oz) sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • grating of nutmeg
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • thinly pared zest of orange and its juice
  • 300 mls (½ pint) white wine


Peel the pears carefully, leaving the stalks, if possible.

Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan, sticking the cloves in the base of each pear. Bring to the boil, and then simmer gently until the pears are tender.

Transfer the pears to wine glasses or serving dishes, and then strain the cooking juice, and boil it down to a syrup to pour over the pears.

These are very good served with custard, creme fraiche, or thick plain yoghurt.