Poached Pears in Marsala Wine: Traditional Italian Recipe

Serves 6


  • 6 firm pears
  • 2-3 lemon slices
  • 50 g/2 oz. / ¼ cup caster/superfine sugar
  • 300 ml/ ½ pint/1 ¼ cups Marsala wine (or use half wine and
  • half water)
  • pared zest of ½ orange
  • 4-6 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, lightly bashed


Choose upright pears with a good stalk. Cut a thin slice off the base of the pears so they stand upright. Peel, making sure you keep the stalk intact and place in a large bowl covered with cold water and 2-3 lemon slices to stop them discoloring.

Put the sugar and 150 ml/ ¼ pint/ 2/3 cup water in a saucepan large enough to hold the pears. Bring to the boil and boil for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the wine, orange zest, cloves and cinnamon stick and return the pan to the heat. Bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer.

Drain the pears and place in the saucepan, standing upright. Cover with the lid and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the pears are tender. Remove from the heat and occasionally spoon the wine over the pears until they are cool.

If space allows, lay the pears down in the wine syrup and turn occasionally.

Serve warm or cold.

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