Published May 1, 1993.
With two basic techniques and syrups of varying densities and flavors, you can make an infinite variety of simple poached fruit desserts.
Poaching is a particularly apt way to cook fruit. Unlike other cooking methods, poaching allows the shape, texture, and basic flavor of fruit to remain intact, while improving its tenderness and enhancing rather than masking its flavor. Poaching performs two distinct functions: it softens fruit's fiber and concentrates its natural sugars, allowing the fruit to retain its shape and most of its texture. Perfectly ripe fruit poaches quickly and easily. There are many less than perfectly ripe fruits on the market, however, rock-hard pears being only one example. Are these specimens candidates for poaching as well?
We were curious to learn how poaching fresh fruits in sugar syrup, be it heavy or medium, affected their taste and texture. What fruits benefit most from having hot sugar syrup poured directly over them and which need to poach in the medium itself?
As our testing proved out, poaching is also a perfect remedy for underripe or bland fruit, rendering it immediately edible.
The technique for poaching, however, does differ slightly depending on the ripeness of the fruit you are using. When poaching firm and underripe fruit, you need only combine the fruit with the elements of the syrup and bring it to a simmer before allowing it to cool in the liquid. This slow cooking and cooling permits the fruit fiber to soften gently and absorb maximum flavor from the syrup. For soft, delicate fruit, it is preferable to make the syrup first, then while it is hot, pour it over the fruit.list of recipes