It’s National Compote Day.
What’s a compote?
Compote de fruits, or fruit compote, is mixed stewed fruit. Compote de pommes or compote d’abricots is a single stewed fruit (here, apples and apricots, respectively).
Compote can be made from fresh or dried fruits or a combination, and can be served warm or chilled. It is a delicious dessert as well as a side dish (wonderful with poultry, ham and roast pork) and a brunch dish.
As a dessert, garnished compote with cream, whipped cream, ice cream (try a parfait) or crème fraîche. Plain stewed fruit is just as delightful.
We first learned to love compote at the knee of our grandmother, who loved to stew seasonal fruits for dessert—stone fruits in the fall, rhubarb and strawberries in the spring, cherries and apples in the summer.
COOKED FRUIT HISTORY
As a recipe, cooked fruit is as old as the invention of clay pots, which were needed to boil water. (The oldest fired clay containers were made in Japan between 10,700 and 8,000 B.C.E.).
The fruits were first cooked with honey. By the 17th century when sugar was more available, wealthier people switched to a sugar syrup.* Spices and other flavorings were added to the recipe (cinnamon, lemon zest, nutmeg, orange peel, vanilla), along with nuts and coconut. There are as many different recipes for compote as there are cooks.
Dried fruit such as raisins or prunes can be mixed with fresh fruit compote. Liqueur, brandy or other alcohol can be added (our grandmother was fond of Kirschwasser [cherry liqueur] or Grand Marnier [orange liqueur]).
Top: Apple-Dried Cherry-Walnut Compote from Ziploc. Bottom: Compote served with a slice of cheese instead of a conventional fruit and cheese course. You can also spoon compote over a baked Brie.
FRUIT COMPOTE RECIPE
Make some compote tonight!
This post is dedicated to the memory of our beloved Nana, who inspired us with her passion for great cooking and baking—and who served us our first compote.
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