There's something very comforting about stewed pears. Naturally sweet (even with no sugar), soft and delicious, they are perfect for a healthy dessert or breakfast. They are also incredibly easy to make. And if your pears aren't perfectly ripe, this recipe will turn them from a disappointment into a treat.
What's so great about this recipe?
- Stewed pears are delicious. Even with no added sugar, they are surprising sweet. And you can bring out the sweetness further with vanilla, or complement it with your favourite spices.
- Pears are very healthy. They are rich in fibre, including prebiotics, which means they are great for gut health. They are also a good source of antioxidants, and a number of vitamins and minerals.
- Quick and easy to make. You'll literally just need pears, a little water and your favourite vanilla or spices. 10 minutes in a pan, and the pears will be transformed into a delicious treat.
Pears. You can use any variety of pear for this recipe. Conference, William and Comice pears are all popular in UK supermarkets, and they'll all be good for this recipe. It can be hard to get a pear at the perfect stage of ripeness, as they ripen from the inside, so pears from the supermarket are often rather hard. This recipe will allow you to enjoy them at their best, soft, juicy and naturally sweet.
Vanilla. Pear and vanilla is a particularly delicious combination. You could use either vanilla extract or a vanilla pod. I was lucky enough to have been given some vanilla pods when I made this recipe, so you can see the little black flecks of vanilla in the pictures. However, if you are not a fan of vanilla, then you could use cinnamon, or your other favourite spices such as nutmeg, ginger or star anise. Just pop the spices in the pan at the start of the cooking time so that they have time to infuse the liquid and fruit with flavour.
Water. You'll need to add a little water to the pan to ensure that the pears cook perfectly. Once the pears are cooked, the water will have turned into a delicious syrup from the natural sugars, so it's worth keeping to serve with the pears.
How to make perfect stewed pears
Pears are quick and easy to prep. It's up to you whether you choose to peel the fruit. It's more nutritious to keep the peel on, but the texture of the stewed pears is lovely with the peel removed (although it does soften during cooking). Cut each pear into quarters. Then you'll just need to remove a tiny sliver from the middle of each to ensure that all the core is removed. There's very little wastage:). You can either leave the quarters whole, or cut into smaller pieces. The pears will discolour and go brown at this stage if you leave them, so cook them straight away.
Pop the prepared pears into a pan with 200 ml of water and your choice of vanilla or spices. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes. Test the pears with the point of a knife, and if they are soft remove from the heat. Less ripe pears will take longer to cook - they might need up to about 20 minutes.
Either serve warm, or leave to cool in the syrup.
Note: If you want to use a vanilla pod, split the pod lengthwise down the centre with a knife. Then scrape the seeds out from half of the pod with the point of a knife. You'll just need half a pod for this recipe. Add the seeds to the pan with the pears and water.
Stewed pears are delicious for breakfast. Add some yogurt, or serve them with these almond yogurt parfaits which are thickened with ground almonds.
Stewed pears will keep well for 4-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Stewed pears is a great way to soften and sweeten pears that are hard and unripe. You'll need to cook them for a little longer, so just test them and cook until they are soft to the point of a knife.
Yes, stewed pears freeze well. Just pop them in a freezer proof container, and defrost at room temperature when you are ready to eat them.
Both stewed and poached pears are simmered in liquid on the stove. But poached pears tend to be cooked in a syrup and use a lot more sugar. This recipe for stewed pears has no added sugar.
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- 500 g pears Any variety. Can also use underripe pears
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or use half a vanilla pod, or cinnamon
- 200 ml water
Preparing the fruit
- Wash the pears, and peel if desired. Cut into quarters, then remove the core. The pears will discolour and go brown at this stage if you leave them, so cook them straight away.
- Add the pears to a pan, along with 200ml of water and your choice of vanilla, cinnamon or other spices.
- Bring to the boil, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Insert the point of a knife into one of the pears to see if they are soft. They may need up to 10 minutes longer if they are underripe. Turn off the heat and allow to cool in the syrup.