I have to give my mother credit for this idea because I would never normally be doing anything with pears. I don’t really like them because they taste spineless and indecisive and they have a grainy texture that drives me nuts. But she came home one Sunday after church with a bag full of pears, dumped the bag on the kitchen counter and said, ‘these will be good for dessert today. I see them poached in zobo.’


Poaching pears


I tried to dissuade her,especially because I was in the middle of baking the most incredible chocolate cake of my whole baking life (pictures of which I will post soon). But you know how mothers are. You already know. There are some days they cut you some slack, and some days they give zero f*cks about what else you have going on and you can either get with their programme or enter ‘one chance’ by arguing. So you guessed it, I chose the easy way out and poached the damn pears.


Ginger, pink peppercorns, cardamom, lemongrass and vanilla for poaching fruit


So, I had to think of how best to elevate these damn fruits to a status that I could find tolerable. Challenge accepted! I know that zobo is traditionally made with ginger and pineapple. But I dispensed with the pineapple and tried a new approach. Next time I may swap out the ginger with something else.

From this side of the adventure, I can tell you that it was well worth doing. And I’m not just saying that to pretty up the narrative of this story. They actually tasted really good. The texture was still annoying, but they took on a bit more flavour, and made for a superb dessert in partnership with my chocolate cake :).


Stewing pears in bissap or sorrel or hibiscus or rosella


You can make these at home and enjoy it with vanilla ice cream. I had mine with plain natural yoghurt, because I don’t mess with that seducing spirit called ice cream no more :).



7 pears, peeled

1 small handful of hibiscus, roselle, or zobo leaves

1 stick of ginger

1/2 vanilla pod

A few leaves of my lemongrass tea from Zanzibar (you can use any lemongrass or lemon slices if you have none)

A few pink peppercorns

3 cardamom pods, cracked open

1/4 cup of sugar

3 cups drinking water



  1. Place all the ingredients in a pot. I gave my trusty Le Creuset a whirl for this because I wanted to stew this on low heat to preserve the zobo flavour, and cast iron pans are excellent for low and slow stewing at an even temperature.
  2. Pour over the water and heat on a low flame until the pears have taken on a deep crimson blush and all the flavours have melded.
  3. Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream, or allow to cool and then store in a large jar in the fridge for later enjoyment. This keeps for about 5 days in the fridge.


Zobo or Hibiscus Poached Pears Recipe Omnomlagos