Russian Dried Fruit Compote
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
servings (about 3½ cups total)
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes
Fragrant, sweet, and comforting, this is an all-purpose standard for good reason. If you struggle getting your family to eat fruit, try it. Warmed, it is delicious stirred into hot breakfast cereals like oatmeal, quinoa, or buckwheat, and memorable over waffles. It’s so inviting and welcoming that if you want to sell your house in a flash; even in a mid-winter storm, make up a batch, and set it out in the kitchen during an open house, and watch what happens. You'll need cheesecloth and kitchen twine for this recipe.
1 cinnamon stick
8 whole black or white peppercorns, or a mixture of both
6 allspice berries
2-inch wide by 4-inch long piece of orange or clementine zest (a large strip)
2 cups water
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey, preferably buckwheat or other strongly flavored variety
4 scrapes of nutmeg (see Kitchen Tips)
½ cup dried Mission figs, California preferred, stems removed
½ cup dried pitted tart cherries
½ cup dried currants
½ cup dried strawberries
½ cup dried red plums
½ cup pitted prunes
- Make a sachet of the spices: Cut a sheet of 10-inch square of cheesecloth and spread it out on a work surface. Place the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and orange zest in the center. Gather the corners together and tie them into a sachet with kitchen twine.
- Pour the water into a medium-sized saucepan set over high heat, add the sachet, brown sugar, honey, nutmeg, dried figs, cherries, currants, strawberries, plums, and prunes, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, uncovered, for 15 minutes. The liquid will reduce considerably and the fruit will absorb the liquid and rehydrate.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes, until the fruit is cool enough to touch.Remove the sachet.
- Serve immediately or transfer to one large or several small containers, cover, and refrigerate. This compote can be served cold or gently rewarmed. It will keep, covered, in the refrigerator, for about 5 days.
Nutmeg is available ground, but if you buy the whole nutmeg and grate it or scrape it with a sharp knife yourself, the flavor and fragrance will be much stronger. Look for it in specialty spice stores, good supermarket spice sections, or online.