Poaching fruit is a great idea to extend the life of your favorite fruit, and also to create thick sauces and flavor additions for a variety of dishes. Poaching fruit is a great use of out-of-season fruit, as well as using up any fruit that isn’t quite ripe yet. The key to poaching success is to use just the right amount of sugar and wine/alcohol to create the right reduction. It’s not difficult, but does take a little practice. You can poach a variety off fruits including pears, apples, cherries, cranberries, and even peaches.
The basic components required to poach fruit are red or white wine/spirits (e.g rum, whiskey, brandy), and sugar. The process involves sweetening the fruit with sugar and cooking it, then reducing it and simmering with the alcohol. The alcohol works as a preservative, and helps to cut the sweetness of the sugar syrup.
Start with 8-10 pieces of fruit, and 2 bottles of red wine or equivalent. You will need 1 cup of sugar for every 6 pieces of fruit:
Step 1: Begin by peeling the fruit. If it is too difficult, you can try boiling it briefly to soften the skin, and it will peel very easily. Some fruit, such as pears and peaches, will loosen their skin easily as they cook. Ideally, you want to start the poaching process with as little skin as possible.
Step 2: Bring the wine or alcohol of choice to a boil; you’ll add 1 cup of sugar to this mixture until it dissolves. Lower the heat and add lemon juice, cinnamon, and a few cloves to add some zest! Do a taste test to make sure you have right amount of sugar for your taste; you can add sugar at this stage only.
Step 3: Simmer the mixture after any additional sugar has dissolved, and add the fruit. You can cover the pan at this point and let the fruit cook through. This can take up to 10-40 minutes depending on the fruit, so check it frequently. Pierce a sample to make sure the fruit is not ‘mushy’ as it will need to be a little firm.
Step 4: Remove the fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon. Core any fruit such as apples or pears, and prepare to serve!
Poached fruit recipes can come with variations of spices such as cinnamon, clove, vanilla, and even black pepper depending on your tastes. Be open to experimenting with different combinations, and you’ll soon learn what fruits work best for poaching. Fruits in season are a great way to start, but you can get a head-start to enjoy your favorite when you can poach your own fruit at any time of year!