Compôtes of Fruit

Or Fruit Stewed in Syrup


We would especially recommend these delicate and very agreeable preparations for trial to such of our readers as may be unacquainted with them, as well as to those who may have a distaste to the common “stewed fruit” of English cookery. If well made they are peculiarly delicious and refreshing, preserving the pure flavour of the fruit of which they are composed; while its acidity is much softened by the small quantity of water added to form the syrup in which it is boiled. They are also more economical than tarts or puddings, and infinitely more wholesome. In the second course pastry-crust can always be served with them, if desired, in the form of ready baked leaves, round cakes, or any more fanciful shapes; or a border of these may be fastened with a little white of egg and flour round the edge of the dish in which the compôte is served; but rice, or macaroni simply boiled, or a very plain pudding is a more usual accompaniment.

Compôtes will remain good for two or three days in a cool storeroom, or somewhat longer, if gently boiled up for an instant a second time; but they contain generally too small a proportion of sugar to preserve them from mould or fermentation for many days. The syrup should be enriched with a larger quantity when they are intended for the desserts of formal dinners, as it will increase the transparency of the fruit: the juice is always beautifully clear when the compôtes are carefully prepared. They should be served in glass dishes, or in compôtiers, which are of a form adapted to them.

Compôte of spring fruit.—(Rhubarb). Take a pound of the stalks after they are pared, and cut them into short lengths; have ready a quarter of a pint of water boiled gently for ten minutes with five ounces of sugar, or with six should the fruit be very acid; put it in, and simmer it for about ten minutes. Some kinds will be tender in rather less time, some will require more.

Obs.—Good sugar in lumps should be used for these dishes. Lisbon sugar will answer for them very well on ordinary occasions, but that which is refined will render them much more delicate.

Compôte of green currants.— Spring water, half-pint; sugar, five ounces; boiled together ten minutes. One pint of green currants stripped from the stalks; simmered five minutes.

Compôte of green gooseberries.— This is an excellent compôte if made with fine sugar, and very good with any kind. Break five ounces into small lumps and pour on them half a pint of water; boil these gently for ten minutes, and clear off all the soum; then add to them a pint of fresh gooseberries freed from the tops and stalks, washed, and well drained. Simmer them gently from eight to ten minutes, and serve them hot or cold. Increase the quantity for a large dish.

Compôte of green apricots.—Wipe the down from a pound of quite young apricots, and stew them very gently for nearly twenty minutes in syrup made with eight ounces of sugar and three-quarters of a pint of water, boiled together the usual time.

Compôte of red currants.—A quarter of a pint of water and five ounces of sugar: ten minutes. One pint of currants freed from the stalks to be just simmered in the syrup from five to seven minutes. This receipt will serve equally for raspberries, or for a compôte of the two fruits mixed together. Either of them will be found an admirable accompaniment to a pudding of batter, custard, bread, or ground rice, and also to various other kinds of puddings, as well as to whole rice plainly boiled.

Compôte of Kentish or Flemish cherries.— Simmer five ounces of sugar with half a pint of water for ten minutes; throw into the syrup a pound of cherries weighed after they are stalked, and let them stew gently for twenty minutes: it is a great improvement to stone the fruit, but a larger quantity will then be required for a dish.

Compôte of Morella cherries.— Boil together for fifteen minutes, six ounces of sugar with half a pint of water; add a pound and a quarter of ripe Morella cherries, and simmer them very softly from five to seven minutes: this is a delicious compôte. A larger proportion of sugar will often be required for it, as the fruit is very acid in some seasons, and when it is not fully ripe

Compôte of damsons.— Four ounces of sugar and half a pint of water to be boiled for ten minutes; one pound of damsons to be added, and simmered gently from ten to twelve minutes.

Compôte of the green magnum-bonum or Mogul plum.— The green Mogul plums are often brought abundantly into the market when the fruit is thinned from the trees, and they make admirable tarts or compôtes possessing the fine slight bitter flavour of the unripe apricot, to which they are quite equal. Measure a pint of the plums without their stalks, and wash them very clean; then throw them into a syrup made with seven ounces of sugar in lumps, and half a pint of water, boiled together for eight or ten minutes. Give the plums one quick boil, and then let them stew quite softly for about five minutes, or until they are tender, which occasionally will be in less time even. Take off the scum, and serve the compôte hot or cold.

Compôte of the magnum-bonum, or other large plums.—Boil six ounces of sugar with half a pint of water the usual time; take the stalks from a pound of plums, and simmer them very softly for twenty minutes. Increase the proportion of sugar if needed, and regulate the time as may be necessary for the different varieties of fruit.

Compôte of bullaces.—The large, or shepherds’ bullace, is very good stewed, but will require a considerable portion of sugar to render it palatable, unless it be quite ripe. Make a syrup with half a pound of sugar, and three-quarters of a pint of water, and boil in it gently from fifteen to twenty minutes, a pint and a half of the bullaces freed from their stalks.

Compôte of Siberian crabs.— To three-quarters of a pint of water add six ounces of fine sugar, boil them for ten or twelve minutes, and skim them well. Add a pound and a half of Siberian crabs without their stalks, and keep them just at the point of boiling for twenty minutes; they will then become tender without bursting. A few stripes of lemon-rind and a little of the juice are sometimes added to this compôte.

Obs.—In a dry warm summer, when fruit ripens freely, and is rich in quality, the proportion of sugar directed for these compôtes would generally be found sufficient; but in a cold or wet season it would certainly, in many instances, require to be increased. The present slight difference in the cost of sugars, renders it a poor economy to use the raw for dishes of this class, instead of that which is well refined. To make a clear syrup it should be broken into lumps, not crushed to powder. Almost every kind of fruit may be converted into a good compôte.