Cuisine - - PREVIEW -


Dried hi­bis­cus flow­ers are used in Mex­ico to make hi­bis­cus agua fresca – a gor­geous cit­russy sum­mer drink – but they’re also used in the Mid­dle East and I thought that the hi­bis­cus drink, a lit­tle adapted, would be good for poach­ing pears. These are the deep­est, cra­zi­est crim­son colour. You could add other flavour­ings – rose­mary, cin­na­mon, gin­ger or bay – but I like the pears just with hi­bis­cus and cit­rus juice.

40g dried hi­bis­cus flow­ers

4 broad strips of lime zest 250g gran­u­lated sugar juice of 2 limes, plus more to taste 8 pears

Put the flow­ers in a saucepan with 800ml of wa­ter, the lime zest strips and sugar and bring to the boil. Re­duce the heat and sim­mer gen­tly for about 15 min­utes, stir­ring to help the sugar dis­solve. Leave un­til cool.

Pour the mix­ture through a sieve, press­ing on the flow­ers to ex­tract as much flavour as pos­si­ble. Add the lime juice to the hi­bis­cus-in­fused liq­uid. Pour this into a broad saucepan, or a sauté pan with a lid, in which the pears can lie in a sin­gle layer. Peel the pears, but leave their stalks on. Heat the liq­uid to sim­mer­ing and add the pears; they should be just cov­ered so, if there isn’t enough, add a lit­tle more wa­ter. Put some bak­ing pa­per on top (cut it to fit your pan) and cover with the lid. How long you need to cook the pears de­pends on how ripe they are: it could take 10 min­utes, it could take 20. Check by pierc­ing the flesh with the tip of knife; it should be ten­der. You also need to turn the pears over dur­ing cook­ing, oth­er­wise one side gets darker than the other.

Lift the ten­der pears from the liq­uid with a slot­ted spoon and set them on to a tray where they aren’t touch­ing (if they touch each other they will con­tinue to cook in the resid­ual heat and might be­come too soft).

Boil the poach­ing liq­uid un­til you have about 350ml left. Check for a bal­ance of sweet­ness and cit­russy-ness. You might want to add a lit­tle more lime juice. Leave to cool com­pletely.

Re­turn the pears to the cooled liq­uid and leave overnight. The longer the fruits sit in it, the more they will be­come stained and flavoured with the hi­bis­cus syrup. Serve with slightly sweet­ened creme fraiche.

This is an edited ex­tract from How to Eat a Peach by Diana Henry, pub­lished by Ha­chette RRP $44.99, avail­able in stores na­tion­ally. Pho­tog­ra­pher: ©Laura Ed­wards

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