Whenever I find myself with a lot of extra ripe fruit, I do one of three things: I try to eat more (but this strategy doesn’t always work because after the fifth plum, I’m plummed out); I make a fruit pie (my husband’s favorite option); or I make a fruit compote (my favorite option).
Compote is one of those words that congers up distant memories or questions (did I see that word on a menu in Paris? Is compote related to Peach Melba?) Compote is just a fancy word for a thick, chunky fruit sauce made with fruit cooked in water and spices (similar to homemade cranberry sauce). Naturally sweet, fruit compote is only as good as the fruit you use so the quality of the fruit really matters.
Use fresh ripened fruit, preferably fruit that holds its shape – apples, pears, plums, peaches, or nectarines (berries can also be used but it’s a bit trickier because these fruits break down quickly when cooked which can lead to a mushy sauce). The key to a great compote is the texture.
The fruit should be tender but still retain its shape after cooking.
People often wonder what to do with a fruit compote because this European creation is not common in the US. Not quite applesauce and definitely not a coulis, fruit compote is staging a comeback as of late because compote is a nutritious and delicious topping for oatmeal (see above) and hot grain cereals, pancakes, french toast, and even ice cream.
Compote is the sauce that looks and sounds fancy but isn’t. Super easy to make, fruit compote can be made with the following general guidelines:
- Use 3/4 cup of water for every 10 pears, apples, peaches, or nectarines or 20 large plums
- Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg are the typical spices to use when making a fruit compote.
- Use the fresh juice of a lemon, lime, or the juice of 1/2 of an orange.
- The addition of a small amount of dried fruit (i.e. raisins) adds a great texture to fruit compote.
- Don’t overcook the fruit or the fruit will be too mushy.
- Use sugar sparingly (taste the fruit to determine how much sweetener to add) or omit if the fruit is very sweet.
The following recipe was inspired and is an adaptation of the recipe for Warm Pear Compote by Dr. Michael Greger, MD.
Warm Fruit Compote (makes 3-4 cups of fruit compote that serves 6)
- 3/4 cup of water
- 10 medium-sized pears, apples, peaches, nectarines, or 20 large plums or a combination (note: pears and peaches together are delicious)*
- 1/4 cup organic raisins
- Juice of a lemon
- 2 tablespoons maple sugar, optional
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*If using peaches, nectarines, or plums, place the whole fruit in a pot of boiling water for one minute so the skin removes easily before cutting the fruit off the pit and into bite-sized pieces.
Place the water, raisins, lemon juice, maple sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and vanilla extract in a large sauce pan. Whisk to blend.
Peel and cut the fruit into small bite-sized pieces and add to the pan. Using a spoon toss the sauce over the fruit.
Heat the fruit mixture on medium, bringing to a gentle simmer. Cook for 7-8 minutes until the fruit becomes tender but is still firm (note: the cooking time will vary depending of the firmness of the fruit). Remove the compote from the heat. Spoon over oatmeal, pancakes, french toast, ice cream, or any hot cereal.