This time of year it’s easy to go off the rails with sweets. For some reason our culture associates the holidays with over indulging on all kinds of foods, especially sugary ones. My poached pears are a wonderful alternative and you will likely be surprised at how satisfying they are. With just a few humble ingredients this simple sweet is even considered medicinal. How awesome is that?
Pears might be my favorite fall fruit. The have a distinct sweet flavor and when ripe are so juicy and delicious. We’ve been poaching pears with spices and a fresh vanilla bean for the last month and are still blown away by how amazing they taste.
Many foods according to Traditional Chinese medicine have qualities that are usually given to Chinese Herbs. In other words, some foods are considered healing and medicinal which is something I like to talk about at length. Pears are associated with the lungs which are responsible for our immunity. Pears are considered cool, sweet and a little sour. They help to moisten our lungs, clear mucous, and relieve coughs. Pears also help us stay hydrated soothe dryness from all of the artificial heat we are exposed to this time of year.
In Ayurveda pears regulate hormones, build energy, and balance all three doshas. They are also considered a feel good fruit as they help relieve troubling emotions. Some consider pears to not be a good choice if you have weak digestive fire (in yoga we call that agni). Digestive fire is what breaks down our food and if it isn’t strong high fiber foods can lead to loose stools. Other camps say pears are great for weak digestion, experiment a little and see what is best for you.
Pears are related to apples and are high in the water-soluble fiber, pectin. Pears have a higher level of pectin than apples and are often used to strengthen the intestines. Pears also contain good levels of vitamin C, B2, E and potassium.
When choosing pears for poaching be sure to buy ones that aren’t fully ripe, they should be firm but not hard. My favorite variety for cooking is Bosc as they keep their shape and have great texture when cooked. You want the neck of the pear to have a little give and then it’s ready for poaching. Pears ripen from the inside out and can go bad quickly, so keep an eye on them. Do not refrigerate raw pears. Always purchase organic pears as non-organic varieties are known to have been sprayed with loads of pesticides.
Serve these pears by themselves as a simple dessert or add them to your breakfast porridge. Just plop a slice or two in your morning porridge while it’s cooking, so yummy!They will keep for several days in an airtight container in the fridge. I usually cook at least four at a time as we eat them throughout the week. It probably goes without saying that these are also really good with your favorite vanilla ice cream, enjoy!
POACHED PEARS WITH AUTUMN SPICES
4 medium Bosc pears that are just starting to ripen
1/2 c. honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean
4 pc. whole allspice
1 star anise
2 pc. whole black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish
Peel, core and quarter the pears.
Place in a medium pot and cover with water. Add the honey and spices.
Simmer covered until the pears are tender, 25-30 minutes. When they are tender turn off heat and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Serve warm with some of the juice and a fresh spring of thyme if desired.
Poached pears will keep several days in an airtight container in the fridge.