Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumnal Poached Pears

The arrival of autumn is accompanied by a plethora of many varieties of fresh pears in produce markets and on backyard trees. If you're overwhelmed by the generosity of friends who leave bags of pears on your doorstep, this recipe is for you.

According to Traditional Eastern Medicine, pears are associated with the Autumn season; they benefit the Lung energy, moisturize the tissues, and cool excess heat in the body. Pears are often prescribed by eastern medicine practitioners for those recovering from upper respiratory illnesses.

For poaching, choose pears which are ripe but not too soft. Certain varieties may work better than others, but I usually use whatever fruit I have on hand. Gentle heating and a few spices are all that is needed to bring out the pear's subtle aromatic flavor. I don't bother to peel organic pears, but you may do so if you wish. Be sure to cut the fruit on a clean board which has not used for garlic or onions.

6 pears, washed, cored, and sliced into eighths
2-3 tablespoons dried golden raisins
2 +1/2 cups organic apple cider or fresh water
1 pinch sea salt
2 cinnamon sticks
2 thick slices fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons mirin rice wine (optional)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Arrange pears and raisins in a wide bottomed pot and add liquid. The fruit should be about half covered by liquid. Stir in remaining ingredients except lemon juice, cover pot, and bring to a gentle simmer. Continue cooking on low heat for about 5 minutes, then remove from flame and let stand for another 20- 30 minutes, which allows the pears to finish cooking and the flavors to develop. Stir in lemon juice; taste and adjust seasoning. Remove cinnamon and ginger.

Store poached pears with liquid in clean glass jars; they will keep well in the fridge for up to a week. Serve as a simple dessert or snack garnished with a few toasted almonds. In cool weather, gently reheat with soy milk and serve in a warm bowl with a dusting of cinnamon.