Traditionally, pears are poached in red or white wine – but tea has so many beautiful flavour notes it makes a wonderful poaching liquor. In this recipe, the orange peel plays on the bergamot used in Earl Grey and the cardamom bring such elegantly spiced notes. It’s perfect for late-spring, when summer berries aren’t quite around but last year’s Conference pears are still readily available. I recommend making a batch so you have some leftovers to go with breakfast yoghurt and granola as well as plenty for pudding.
Spice Poached Pears
2 Early Grey teabags
Saffron, a generous pinch
6-8 cardamom pods
4 pears, peeled
To serve: whipped cream, crème fraiche or ice cream
Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan, add the teabags and let it ‘brew’ for a couple of minutes until you’ve essentially made a pan of tea. Take out the teabags and discard.
Bring the pan of tea to a gentle simmer and stir in the sugar until it dissolves.
Meanwhile, use a vegetable peeler to create a long strip of orange zest to add to the sweet tea, along with a pinch of saffron and your crushed cardamom pods.
Finally, add the pears to the poaching liquid and simmer for 10-15 minutes, dependent on the ripeness of pears*.
If the pears aren’t totally covered by the poaching liquor then make sure you rotate them during cooking, so they are evenly coloured and spiced. Once you’ve removed the pears, strain the liquid, return it to the pan and rapidly simmer until it’s thickened into a syrup.
Either serve it in a pouring jug alongside the poached pears or keep it in the fridge and use as a spiced cocktail syrup.
*very ripe pears need poaching for a shorter amount of time