Monday, February 21, 2011

Pear and cinnamon cordial-with bonus poached fruit

It started with half a dozen slightly wrinkled apricots looking reproachfully at me from the fruit bowl. Not even organic and past their prime, I’d been musing on food wastage and felt growing levels of guilt about not consuming all that I’d bought. To extend their life a little longer I chopped off any blemishes and stewed the fruit with a scant amount of water and sugar.

Oh my goodness, I’d forgotten how good freshly stewed fruit tastes. The flavours intensified in the cooking and transformed into a fragrant treat.

A few weeks later, some pears begged for the same treatment. The end of the week fruit is like the kid picked last for the sports team. They’re not necessarily unworthy, just the stars got chosen first. Eating the fresh pear (an organic Bartlett) told me today it was perfect, neither too hard, nor too soft and the flavour subtly sweet. Not being able to get through the rest of the bowl in one sitting, poaching was the obvious solution.

I usually poach pears in port but this time wanted something more breakfast friendly so opted for a simple syrup. I like David Lebovitz’s approach and covered the simmering fruit with paper to stop them from browning. I went easier on the sugar and spiced them with cinnamon and vanilla.

The house quickly became scented with cinnamon. I’m sure it must be a mood enhancer, like a feline stalking catnip I kept pacing by the stove taking in huge wafts of the enchanting aroma.

Not only was the fruit an amazing success but I also lucked on a new drink. My love for elderflower cordial reaches almost addiction levels at times but poached pear and cinnamon syrup could rival it. The taste has the subtleness of elderflower, balanced by the base notes of cinnamon.

This following was for a small test batch, for a larger amount of cordial scale up as required.

Pear and cinnamon cordial

6 ripe pears, peeled, cored and quartered
4 cups water
1 cup sugar (plus more for the cordial)
1 cinnamon quill
1/2 – 1 vanilla pod (to round the flavour but not dominate, unless you love vanilla)
pear juice concentrate (optional)

Place the water in a large pot, add sugar and dissolve over a gentle heat. Add the spices and prepared pears, then cover with a round of parchment or baking paper with a small hole in the middle (see the Lebovitz link above if unsure how to do this). Simmer over a low heat til the pears are just cooked. Mine took about 20 minutes.

Allow the fruit to cool in the syrup to enhance the flavour, then remove the pears with enough syrup to coat them. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a simmer. As the rest of the fluid is to make a small batch of cordial you may want to add more sweetener. I used some pear juice concentrate but if you want a clear syrup add more white sugar rather than the brown concentrate. Reduce the liquid by a third then decant to a small covered bottle or jar when cool.

For a fragrant drink add 1 – 2 tablespoons of cordial to a glass of sparkling mineral or soda water.

And don’t forget to eat the poached pears, perfect as a simple healthy dessert or on cereal for breakfast.

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Anonymous Lucy said...


I can smell it from here.

Or, rather, I wish I could smell it from here. Nice and warming for this, ahem, so called summer.

(I did the bag of nectarines I brought home last week, with some of those kaffir lime leaves...yum-o.)

3:15 pm  
Blogger GS said...

Nectarines and kaffir lime leaves - wow!

7:44 am  
Blogger Cindy said...

Yes, wow! I poached a few quinces on the weekend and am similarly looking forward to some syrup-based mocktails as much as the fruit itself. :-)

Wish I'd thought to add some vanilla. I guess there's still time...

1:58 pm  
Blogger GS said...

You could decant the syrup and gently simmer it with cinnamon for a while, then pour back on the quinces while it's still warm.

2:37 pm  
Anonymous Sammie said...

My insides feel warm just thinking about this recipe! Perfect for the weather we're getting right now! Thanks for posting.

4:31 pm  

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