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.).
Enjoy a compote of your favorite fruits. Photo by GeeJo | Wikimedia.
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]).
*Honeybees are far older than mankind, originating in Asia and migrating to Africa, then to Europe (Europeans brought them to America). See the history of honey. Sugar, also native to Asia, has been produced since ancient times; but due to the expense of extracting it, honey was most often used for sweetening.
FRUIT COMPOTE RECIPE
Make some compote tonight!
This post is dedicated to the memory of our beloved Nana, who inspired us and her daughters with her passion for great cooking and baking.
Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.