One easy recipe for poached pears states to combine 6 cups of water, 1 cup of sugar and 6 firm peeled pears in a saucepan. Simmer the pears for 25 minutes, and remove them from the saucepan. Reduce the remaining liquid until syrupy, and pour over the pears.
For poaching, use firm pears that hold their shape after cooking, such as Bosc or Anjou varieties. Peel the pears, slice them in half lengthwise, then use a melon baller to scoop out the core. Twist off the stems as well. Water and sugar make the simplest poaching liquid for pears, but adding additional ingredients, such as lemon rinds, cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger and vanilla bean, give the pears more flavor.
While the pears are poaching, make sure they stay fully immersed in the liquid. To keep the pears from bobbing on top of the liquid, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit just inside the saucepan, with a hole cut out in the middle to allow steam to escape. Press down on the paper with a slotted spoon periodically to ensure they are covered with liquid. After removing the cooked pears from the saucepan, bring the remaining liquid to a boil, allowing the liquid to reduce to a thick or thin syrup, depending on preference. Pour the syrup over the pears just before serving.