Early Fall Stone Fruit Compote
Fall desserts are usually more elaborate than summer desserts. I barely bake anything in the summer, relying more on fresh fruits and light sauces for dessert. Now I find myself in the mood for heartier desserts, pastries, cooked sauces and heartier foods. Baked apples, poached pears cooked figs are but few of the things I am making these days. But I am not quite ready for a lot of baking and like to use up the last of the stone fruit in a few different ways.
What to do with the last of the stone fruits of late summer and early fall? We can bake them into all kinds of cakes and pastries, make them into jams and sauces, or we can make a European style fruit compote. Compote is a French word meaning simply mixture and in culinary terms it means mixed fruits cooked in water, sugar and spices. This particular compote is not intended as a side item to another dessert, rather this is the main event. You serve it on it’s own, chilled, with a spoon. Having said that, you can serve it with ice cream, creme fraiche, whipped cream or yogurt. Where I come from it was called fruit “soup” and was always ready in the fridge available to serve chilled in a small glass, with a spoon when company drops by unexpectedly. When I make it now I make enough to fill 3-4 mason jars and keep it in the fridge and finish it over time. It keeps quite well in the fridge. You can also give away a couple of jars to family, friends and neighbours.
You can use any stone fruits you happen to have, and add other fruits as well, such as grapes, blueberries, peaches etc. I had black, yellow and red plums so that’s what I used this time. Some cooks like to leave a few of the fruit stones in the compote to impart slightly nutty/bitter flavour. Suit yourself but be careful not to bite on any pits, or remove them when the compote is ready. The recipe also calls for whole cloves and since they are not fun to bite into either I place them in a tea filter or make a packet from cheesecloth, immerse it in the pot and then remove when the cooking is done. The star anise is easier to identify so I tend to leave it loose in the pot, as I do with the cinnamon stick. One thing to mention: you can use softer, slightly over ripened fruits but don’t use fruits that you wouldn’t eat. My rule is, if you won’t eat it raw, don’t eat it cooked.
The recipe makes a large portion, you can easily cut it in half to try it for the first time. Also, this is not a recipe where quantities are critical. You can add more liquid or more fruits, to reach the look and consistency that appeals to you.
6 cups mixed plums, red, black and yellow (see note above)
2 cups blueberries
4 cups water
2 cups orange juice
2 cups sugar
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
Wash the fruits and cut in half, removing the stones. You can keep a few stones if you wish to use in the recipe (see note above).
Place fruits, water, orange juice, sugar, star anise and cinnamon stick in a large pot.
Place the cloves in a tea filter and add to the pot.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, lower heat and cook, partially covered for about 30-45 minutes. If the liquid seems too low you can add water. It depends on how much juice the fruits exude.
When the compopte is cooked to your liking remove from heat and let cool a little.
Spoon into clean mason jars, cover and refrigerate until needed.