How to cut the pears is up to your final use. If you want a hearty serving or plan to stuff them, you can leave them whole. On the other extreme, if you like to garnish a salad with poached pears, cook halved & cored pears first, and then when they are done and cooled, slice into 1/8ths. In any case, poaching is usually done with whole cored pears or pears cut in half. Then you can cut cooled pears for service.

When serving poached pears, remember they are a knife and fork food at the table. Don’t expect a guest to use a spoon or fork on a whole poached pear, as it most likely will skid right off the plate.

One note about coring the pears before cooking. We generally do, but when serving cold, we sometimes leave the core in and chill down all the way before coring.

Careful peeling of the pears is key to final appearance. Using a good potato peeler you want to make long, uninterrupted strokes in removing peel. You will create a neat stripe in the flesh, which becomes exaggerated after cooking.  We also often keep a little skin around the stem that is also left attached whenever possible. That way after poaching the pears still look like pears with a nice uniform look.

Pear season is long. We are lucky to be in the Northwest because many delicious varieties grow here and are available depending on varietal, September through May. All pears are picked under ripe, but mature. Then the grower must chill them to prepare them to completely ripen. This chill step seems to be needed to create the sugars we love about pears. When we buy them at markets or grocery stores, this has been done for us.


  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or Muscato or other wine you like
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 pieces star anise
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • dash of salt
  • 6 whole pears (Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou, Comice) peeled, stem in tack


Combine all but pears in a deep skillet or sauce pot, depending on how you cut the pears. For whole pears you will need depth of liquid so a sauce pot is best. For halves, use the deep skillet.  Bring liquid to simmer and continue for 5 minutes. Place the pears into pot and bring back to simmer; cover the pears with a vented piece of parchment paper. Simmer approximately 15 minutes. Test pear for doneness using a butter knife (or table knife).

Roasting alternative: Peel pears, cut in half, core; place in skillet cut side down with 1 tablespoon sugar per 1/2 pear. Place in 400°F oven 15-20 minutes or until just tender and caramelized. Serve carmel side up.


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