I love cooking with winter fruit, but have mentioned a couple of times how I find I eat much less fresh fruit in winter as cozy warming food takes over from cold and crisp. It is now technically spring, but winter fruit still dominates the shelves, and it is wet and chilly here, so this is still a nice warming option, and helps me to get my two a day when I really don’t want to see another apple!
Calling this fruit compote might sound slightly complicated, but it is just chopped fruit cooked in a very light syrup with a couple of spices. I generally use cinnamon and cloves, but cardamon, or even star anise, would also be lovely I think, and as I mention below, you can use different combinations of liquids depending on preferences.
You will notice the different colour of the fruit in the top picture, and this is because blood oranges are in season at the moment, so the most recent batch was made with blood orange juice and sliced blood oranges from a bagful courtesy of the lovely folk at Redbelly Citrus. The blood oranges add a beautiful colour and flavour, but it’s also lovely with any sweet orange as in the batch pictured below.
I generally keep a batch of this chilled in the fridge to have with breakfast cereal or with yoghurt as a snack, but it is also lovely warm, so you could certainly eat straight away with a spot of cream!
Winter fruit compote
- 3 cups orange juice or a combination of juice and red or white wine
- 3 strips of orange peel studded with 8 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 90g sugar or honey
- 250g dried figs (Turkish, Greek, or Mission would all be fine)
- 4-5 large pears (almost 1kg)
- 3-4 oranges (blood or navel) to make about two thirds the weight of the pears
Heat juice, wine if using, orange peel, cinnamon, and sugar or honey in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer five minutes. Trim the stalks of the figs, and cut in halves, or quarters if large. Add to the saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.
While the figs are simmering, peel pears and cut into bite sized chunks. Slice the tops and bottoms off the oranges and cut off the peel and pith. Cut in quarters from top to bottom, then slice thickly crosswise and place in a large bowl. Ad the pears to the saucepan and simmer until tender – about ten minutes.
Remove the figs and pears from the saucepan with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl with the oranges. Put the saucepan and syrup back on the stove, increase heat to medium and reduce until syrupy. Pour over the fruit and stir gently to combine.
This can be served warm with cream or ice cream, or chilled and eaten with yoghurt or muesli for breakfast. It will last a week in the fridge.