I love to forage as autumn arrives, it’s not just about finding free food, I feel a real connection with nature.
Our ancestors foraged for almost all of their food, but this fell by the way side with the agricultural revolution. However in the last decade, foraging has made a big comeback. No longer a passing foodie trend, with a steady rise in foraging experts and courses in the UK to participate in.
What were once fragrant creamy-white clusters in spring are now deep magenta berries. It’s hard to believe they’re the same plant. If you take yourself on a walk in the countryside, you’re bound to stumble across elderberries. Elderberries are packed with antioxidants and vitamins, that boost your immune system. They can also help to reduce stress, which, let’s face it, we all suffer with on occasion. So all in all, nature does its bit to look after us!
This uncomplicated dessert is so simple to make, yet it looks so impressive. It can easily be prepared ahead and served either warm or cold.
If you like this recipe, you may like to try Spiced preserved pears.
Elderberry Poached Pears
- approximately 12 elderberry heads ripe
- 4 conference pears not too ripe
- 190 g golden caster sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 cloves
- 1 lemon pared zest, juice of half
- Thick Greek style yogurt or creme fraiche to serve
- Carefully peel the pears, leaving the stalks intact. Have a medium pan ready and add the sugar, 1/2 litre of water, the pared zest of a lemon and juice, the bay leaves and the cloves. Now wash the elderberry heads, leaving four smallish heads to serve with the pears. With the remainder using a fork, remove the berries from the stalks straight into the saucepan. Bring to a slow simmer and using a wooden spoon squash the berries to release the juice. simmer for several minutes.
- Now add the pears and simmer for 20-25 minutes, rotate the pears every 5-7 minutes to ensure they poach evenly on all sides, including the tops of the pears. They're ready when a knife yields easily when inserted into the pear. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the pears to cool down in the poaching syrup. (the longer the pears sit in the syrup after poaching, the better they’ll taste). When the pears are cool enough remove, strain the syrup and pour back into the pan. Reduce by one third.
- When you’re ready to serve place a large frying pan on the hob, add approximately 6 tablespoons of the syrup to the pan on a medium high heat. Add the remaining elderberry heads and let them cook for several minutes or until the start to burst. Remove from the heat.
- Cut the pears in half, or serve whole upright, drizzle the syrup on the plates and add the elderberry heads. Serve with the yogurt or creme fraiche.
- The remaining syrup can be diluted with sparkling water as a refreshing, immune boosting drink.
- The longer you leave the pears in the syrup, the darker they’ll become. If you just want a hint of colour, remove them from the syrup as soon as they are cooked.
- Add sliced fresh ginger and or cinnamon to the syrup for added flavour.