Fruits poached in a syrup gain flavor and sophistication, as well as easing the pressure on a busy cook. Light and beautiful, they may wait in your refrigerator for 3 or 4 days until you are ready to serve them.
Combine the sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, vanilla bean, and lemon zest in 1 quart of water.
Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add 1 pound fruit of your choice (apples and pears should be peeled, cored, and quartered; peaches and apricots should be poached whole and peeled only after they are cool). Bring the syrup back to a simmer and cook the fruit gently unti