As the seasons change and cooler nights approach, warm your belly with this autumn pear-ginger compote. For example, the sweetness of the apple and pear compliments any cheese plate or antipasto platter. A thick slice of Italian bread topped with a slab of salty Pecorino Romano cheese and a healthy dollop of Ginger-Pear Compote. That sounds like a pretty darn good way to start a holiday party or any party for that matter.
What is the difference between compote, conserve, jam, preserves or even coulis, for that matter? One thing they all have in common: fruit is cooked with sugar added.
Here is a quick and easy guide:
Want to “put up” fruit for the winter? Making Jams, preserves, conserves, jellies and coulis allow us to enjoy the flavors of summer deep in the winter months.
Jams– the fruit is mashed and makes use of pectin and sugar to create a thick consistency.
Preserves– a bit more rustic than jams; the fruit is roughly chopped or left whole.
Conserve– made from a mixture of fruits with perhaps some nuts added in for a savory flavor.
Marmalade– made with the fruit rind or citrus added to the mix.
Serious Eats sums up the differences here.
And finally, the compote. Use either fresh or dried fruit and cut into chunks and cook slowly in a sugar syrup so the fruit holds it shape. What sets compote apart from the others is that it should be eaten right away and served for dessert or as part of a meal. A variation of the compote – coulis – uses the very same process but with puréed fruit. Compote comes from the Medieval times and was thought to help the body balance the effects of humidity. I always find it fascinating to remember that food is medicine and our ancestors treated it as such. So, as autumn and winter make an appearance, let’s eat more compote!
Oh, and one more note about pear compote and food as medicine… it is best to cook pears in wine and spices to help aid in their digestion. Good to know!
Autumn Pear-Ginger Compote- Composta di Pere e Zenzero
This sweet holiday compote pairs perfectly with chunky blue cheese or salty Italian cheese such as Pecorino-Romano. The smell of cooking apples and pears in sweet wine fills the house with a nurturing aroma.
– 1/2 cup Moscato or dessert wine
– 1/2 cup water
– 1 Tablespoon sugar
– A (2/3 inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into fine julienne strips- about 1 heaping tsp.
– 2 Bartlett or Asian pears, peeled and cored, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
– 2 small Jonagold apples (or any sweet, crisp apple such as Fuji, Braeburn or Gala), peeled and cored, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
– 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
– a pinch of salt
1. In a heavy saucepan bring wine, water, sugar and ginger to a simmer and heat to dissolve sugar, about 1 minute.
2. Mix in fruit, lemon juice and pinch of salt. Next, cover and simmer stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until fruit is tender.
3. Uncover and continue to simmer to evaporate most of the liquid, about 8 – 10 minutes more. Cool a bit before serving. Your compote can be served either warm or cold.
4. Cover tightly and store up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Other warming autumn treats:
Flourless Italian Cookies
Hazelnut Orange Biscotti