The Simplest Fruit Compote for Past-Peak Summer Fruit
Sooner or later during the summer, we are all bound to have some fruit on the counter which, gorgeous and cooperative though it once was, has gotten a little punktastic due to inattention or innocent overabundance. I admit that around here, world-traveled supermarket fruit in that condition is typically sent to the circular filing bin.
But when it comes from a farmer you’ve met, maybe even one who saw how you let a few leftover tomatoes rot in the garage last week and was probably even more traumatized by the experience than you were – well, it deserves a better home.
This method will work with any slightly overripe summer fruit, and also with apples and pears. Cut out any bad spots and salvage the rest.
What to do with overripe fruit
In theory I always catch this fruit just moments beyond its peak ripeness for eating out of hand and make it into microbatches of luscious, jewel-colored homemade jam. Then, in the winter, we gather around the crackling fire and eat it with spoons from the jar. In practice, winters go more like this: December 24, 2007, snarky preschooler: “How does Santa even get in here if we don’t have a chimney?” So – no chimney, no fire, and pretty much always, no homemade jam.
Luckily, there is a prosperous middle ground that takes virtually no effort and yields versatile results. In The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters describes this borderline remedial technique in the preserving category, though it might be better thought of as merely extending, as the results will last for about a week in the fridge. Theoretically.
- Summer fruit
- A few tablespoons of sugar (we used 1/4 cup for the good parts of about 25 slightly angry peaches)
- Pit and dice the good parts of the fruit (or leave whole if you're working with berries, halve if cherries, etc.) and gently stir together with the sugar in an appropriately sized pot. Heat the mixture over medium heat until the fruit has released some of its juices and the sugar has dissolved, maybe 10 minutes.
- Serve by itself, or over yogurt, ice cream, pancakes, waffles, you name it (but for once, probably not a fried egg).
Nutritional information for this recipe is calculated for a half cup of peach compote.