Compote - Definition and Recipes


Compote is a term used in cookery to signify something whole in a sauce. Hence a compote of fruit is the fruit either whole, or split and the stone or core removed, dropped into a thick boiling syrup till cooked without breaking, cooled, served with the syrup.

A compote of birds such as larks, reedbirds, ortolans, etc. are the birds boned and stuffed, then lightly roasted, then finished cooking in a bright sauce; served with the sauce.

Serving Suggestions

Compotes are preparations of various kinds of fruits with the addition of sugar. They are prepared in a similar manner to wet fruits. They should be used and served up in deep glass dishes, or compotiers, on the day on which they are made.

Compotes will not keep longer than two days; after that time they will require to be boiled up again. It is occasionally served with cake as a dessert or served with a meat course.

Hints on Preparation

These are fruits preserved with very little sugar, and made as they are needed. The fruits are blanched, a little sugar added for them to absorb, and then they are put in dishes, and the syrup poured over them.

For the sake of appearance (for which so much labor is everywhere expended), they are ornamented in divers ways with preserved fruits and jellies, and covered with jelly.

Great care should be taken to preserve the form and whiteness of the fruits and syrups. For this purpose, when you peel apples, pears, etc., rub them immediately with a cut lemon, and squeeze a little lemon-juice into the syrup.

In peeling the fruits, they may be cut into many fanciful shapes, and, to obliterate the traces of the knife, the blade passed down over its marks; the fruit may be blanched either in water or thinned syrup.

The first method is the most economical, and the fruit does not need so much sugar; but the second produces the better compotes. To preserve the whiteness of the peeled fruits, they should be peeled as rapidly as possible, put into a saucepan with the water or syrup, blanched only long enough to soften, ranged in the dish, and covered with syrup.

To remove the skin from peaches, apricots, apples, &c., you may throw them into boiling water, and let them boil up once or twice, after which the skin will come off easily. If the fruits are not ripe, they ought to be put in syrup over the fire to correct their crudity.

Compote of Fruits

The fruits are preserved in a light syrup and are put in bowls or jars for immediate use. Either fresh or dried fruit may be used for compotes.  The dried fruits should be washed and soaked for several hours before stewing; and some fruit require soaking overnight.

Apples, Pears, Peaches, and Apricots are peeled and stewed or baked whole, cut in halves or slices and stewed till tender. Cherries are pitted or stewed whole.

Berries are picked over, washed and stewed whole.  Plums and Cherries are often stewed with the stalks on them. The plums should be pricked all over with a pin to prevent the breaking of the skin. 

To preserve the whiteness of the fruits: Apples, Quinces and Pears, the peeled fruit, should be put in cold water before preserving. The skin of ripe Peaches and Apricots is easily removed by dipping in boiling water for a moment. The green fruits should be peeled. For compotes, the fruit should be stewed tender, so as to keep whole and in shape.

Compote of Whole Apples

Peel and core the apples. Put in flat saucepan, with a stick of cinnamon, the peel, and juice of one lemon. Cover with a thin syrup, made with two pounds of sugar to two quarts of water. Let stew slowly till tender.

Take the apples out of the syrup and place in a shallow dish. Boil the syrup down to half and pour over the apples in the dish, after removing the peel and cinnamon. Set to cool and serve. The apples may be served plain or with whipped cream.

Baked Compote of Apples

Peel and core the apples, put close together in a pan and pour over a syrup. Put in the oven and bake till done. Flavor with lemon or nutmeg and serve in the syrup.

For variety, the core of the apples may be filled with chopped almonds, nuts, other fruits, or fruit jam, and decorated with cherries and Angelique; or served with a border of whipped cream.

Sliced Compote of Apples

Cut the peeled and cored apples in slices, cover with water. To each quart of water take eight ounces of sugar; add the peel and juice of one lemon, also one stick cinnamon; stew slowly till tender; serve.

Apple Compote with Cream

Chop fine half a cup of raisins and one-third a cup of nut meats; add three or four tablespoonfuls, each, of sugar and water and let cook to a smooth paste, adding more water if needed.

Make a syrup of one cup, each, of sugar and water; in this cook about eight cored-and-pared apples, turning often that the shape may be retained.

Set them on a baking dish, fill the centers with the fruit-and-nut mixture and dredge the whole with sugar. Set into the oven to melt the sugar and glaze the apples. Serve hot or cold with whipped cream.

Compote of Apples - I

Choose medium sized tart apples, pare and cut them into halves, take out the cores, round the edges and lay them in cold water with lemon juice; boil 1 pound sugar with 1 pint water and the rind and juice of 1 lemon in a wide, low saucepan.

Put in the apples and let them boil 3 minutes; then turn the apples around, cover the pan and set it on side of stove, where they will stop boiling; let them stand 10 minutes; then thrust a straw through them.

Iif it goes through easily they are doue; if not, boil them for a minute longer; remove them from fire and set aside; when cold take the apples out of the syrup and lay them on a sieve; boil the syrup down until it thickens; pile the apples up in a glass dish and pour the syrup over when cold.

Apple Compote - II

Cut and boil the apples, drain off the juice, sweeten it with refined sugar, and put in the finely cut peel of a lemon, together with the juice. Pare any kind of good apples, cut them in quarters, take out the core, pierce them several times, and let them boil soft in the juice, but not pithy; take them out, lay them to drain, and, when cold, put them in compote dishes.

Drain off the juice and boil it to a jelly, skim it well, pour it about the thickness of a quill on a plate, or on as many plates as there are compote dishes; the plates must be dipped first in cold water; pour some jelly on the apples.

When the jelly on the plates is stiff, warm them slightly, and with a knife take them off, and place them over the apples in the compote dishes : this is very good.

Compote of Apples - III

Cut the apples in halves, scoop out the cores neatly, either turn or peel them in straight bands of equal breadths, and, as each is turned out of hand, drop it into some acidulated water; simmer in twenty-eight degrees syrup until the apples are partially done through, and allow them to steep in their syrup in a basin until they are dished up; they must have been well-drained on a napkin.

Decorate the compote with angelica, the red peel of apples, and different sorts of preserve, all previously cut in thin sheets or slices, and stamped out with tin cutters in ornamental shapes to form tasteful designs upon each piece of apple, representing wreaths, stars, etc. Cover the whole with a thin sheet of apple-jelly.

Stuffed Apple Compote

Pare fine large apples, take out the core, leaving the apples entire, fill the opening with apricot or orange marmalade, put them near together in a saucepan, pour over them clarified sugar, and cook them soft in the oven.

Compote of Apple-Paste

Reduce sufficient marmalade of apples to serve your purpose; color one-half pink with a few drops of cochineal, and spread each lot about half an inch thick upon clean plates, and set them aside to become stiff and cold.

When cold, cut out the marmalade, with a knife or with a tin cutter, in squares, diamonds, rings, ovals, leaves, etc.

Use a fork to dip each of these in some caramel syrup; and as each piece is so dipped, place it out of hand upon a trellised wire drainer resting on a dish; and, when all are complete, put them in the screen to dry for twenty minutes.

Dish up this compote pyramidally, and pour a little cinnamon liqueur round the base.

Compote of Apples à la Duchesse

For this compote choose golden pippins of equal size, and free from blemish; remove the cores, turn them, and when they are three parts done in syrup, drain them upon a baking sheet, and finish them by baking them for a few minutes in a rather sharp oven.

When they are withdrawn, and while hot, fill up the interiors with apricot jam, and use a fork to roll each apple in jelly produced by boiling down the syrup used to dress it in; this will give the apples a beautiful gloss.

Dish up the compote in a pyramidal form, imitate the stalks with a piece of green angelica, and pour a little maraschino round the base.

Apricot Compote

Take well-grown apricots which are not entirely ripe, cut them in two, and peel them; rinse them in cold water, and blanch them, not too soft, in clarified sugar.

Let them stay in the sugar till they are cold, then put them to drain; add some apple-jelly to the sugar, and let it boil to a bead; put the apricots with the stone between into compote dishes, and pour over the sugar.

Banana Compote

Peel 5 sound ripe bananas, remove stringy parts, and slice crosswise 1/8 of an inch thick. Boil until clear 1/2 cup of water with as much sugar. Add half of the bananas and cook until tender. With a skimmer, remove the bananas to a bowl, and in the boiling syrup left in pan cook the remainder of the bananas until tender, lift out and put in bowl with the others.

Reduce the liquor to consistency of ordinary syrup, and pour it boiling hot over the bananas; add to syrup, if desired, a piece of lemon-rind and a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Cherry Compote

To one pound of stoned cherries, clarify and boil to a large flake five-eighths of a pound of sugar; put in the cherries, and let them boil up several times; drain them on the skimming-spoon, and put them in the dishes, and add to the juice a glass-full of currant-juice; let it boil to a weak jelly, and pour it half cold over the cherries.

Green Gooseberry Compote

Take fine, well-grown, unripe gooseberries, cut off the tuft, and make a slit in the side; take out the seeds, put the berries in water, and let them boil up once.

Cover them with a napkin, and let them stand till they are cold; put them again on the fire with the same water and let them heat, but not boil; put them in cold water, and, when they are cold, drain them.

Clarify and cook some sugar to a thread, let the berries boil eight minutes in it, skim them, and let them stand covered till the next day; then let them boil up several times with the sugar; skim them, and, when they are cold, put them in compote dishes; boil the sugar to a small bead, and pour it over.

Grape Compote

Cut a slit in one side, take out the seeds, put the fruit in cold water, and let them boil; take them off the fire, let them stand covered some time, and put them in cold water; when they are entirely cold, take them out with a skimming-spoon; put them in clarified sugar boiled to a thread, and let them boil up some time, skim them, and, when they are cold, put them in compote dishes; boil the sugar to a small bead, and pour it over.

Compote of Pears - I

Select nice pears; peel and divide in halves or quarters; remove the seeds and stew slowly in a light syrup with the juice of one lemon and a few whole cloves till tender. Take out of the syrup and put into a shallow dish. Reduce the syrup and pour over the fruit; let cool and serve.

Compote of Pears - II

Pare and cut 2 dozen medium sized ripe pears into halves, remove the cores and put the pears in cold water with the juice of 1 lemon or 2 tablespoonfuls white vinegar; place a kettle over the fire with 1 pint water, 10 tablespoonfuls sugar, the juice of 1 lemon, half the rind and boil 3 minutes.

Remove the scum, put in the pears and boil till a straw will pierce through them easily; then pour them in a deep stone bowl, cover with paper and set aside; when cold drain off the liquor and boil it down to one-half; then set aside to cool; shortly before serving pile the pears up high in a glass dish and pour the syrup over them cold.

If large pears are taken use a smaller quantity; if small pears are chosen use a larger quantity, leave them whole, cut the stems off half way and pare them.

Compote of Pears, à la Princesse

Select seven pears of best quality and of equal size, scrape the stalks, and turn them spirally from head to stalk; let the pears simmer in syrup containing a little lemon-juice to keep them as white as possible.

When done, and steeped some time in their syrup, cut off the pointed ends of the fruit, so as to leave the stalk ends measuring about half an inch surface in diameter.

Upon each, place a similar sized ring of angelica; upon this set a large strawberry or stoned cherry (either must be passed through hot syrup), and run a strip of angelica through all to imitate the stalks of the pears; when dished up, pour some syrup over the compote.

Compote of Pears, à la Victoria

In this case also seven pears are required; trim and remove the cores through the thick end half-way down the fruit, previously to its being turned spirally, in order not to split or in any way damage the shape of the pears; let them simmer in very light pink syrup merely to give them a delicate tinge of color; and when they are done, let them be drained on a napkin.

Fill their interiors with fresh strawberry jam, decorate them as in the preceding case, using mirabelle plums instead of cherries. When dished up, the pears must be placed in the compotier in an upright position to give due effect to the decoration; pour some of the syrup flavored with vanilla round the base.

Compote of Quinces - I

Peel and quarter the fruit and put in cold water. Boil the peel and core in some water till soft, then strain off the juice. Add one pound of sugar to each quart of the liquid. Let come to a boil, then add the sliced fruit and stew till tender.  Sweet apples and quinces in equal portions make a nice compote stewed in this manner.

Compote of Quinces - II

Chose 1/2 dozen large apple quinces, pare and cut them into quarters, remove the cores and lay the quinces in cold water; put the peels and cores in a kettle, cover with water and boil till soft.

Strain them first through a coarse bag, then through a flannel bag; return the liquor to kettle, add 1 cup sugar, boil for a few minutes, put in the quinces and boil till tender; put them into a dish and strain the syrup over them.

Compote of Raisins

Remove the pits from 1 pound large raisins, put them in a saucepan with 1/2 pint water, 1/2 pint Madeira wine and 1 cup sugar and boil them slowly for 1 hour; serve in a glass dish when cold.

Compote of Dates

Cut I pound dates open at the side and remove the pits; put the dates with a little Malaga wine, 1/2 cup water and 4 tablespoons of sugar over the fire and boil slowly nearly 1 hour; then serve when cold.

Compote of Cherries - I

Take sour cherries, remove the stems and stones and stew in a light syrup till clear. Serve cold.

Compote of Cherries - II

Remove the pits from 2 pounds large cherries; boil 1 1/4 cups sugar with 3/4 cup water to a syrup, put in the cherries and boil 2 minutes; pour them into a dish, cover with paper and set in a cool place.

When cool drain off the syrup and reduce it to one-half by boiling it down; then set aside to cool; in serving put the cherries into a glass or fine porcelain dish and pour the cold syrup over them.

Compote of White Cherries

Take nice sound cherries; cut the stalk in half and stew in a light syrup with a drop of almond flavor for five minutes. Take out carefully, reduce the syrup to half and pour over; serve cold.

Compote of Peaches

Cut into halves 20 large, sound peaches, pare them carefully and remove the pits; crack the pits open, take out the kernels, scald them in boiling water and remove the brown skins.

Place a porcelain-lined or agate kettle with I cup sugar and 1 cup water over the fire and boil a few minutes; put in the peaches and kernels and boil from 6-8 minutes; pour them into a deep porcelain dish, cover with paper and set aside.

When cold put them in a sieve or colander over the kettle the peaches were boiled in; drain off all the liquid and boil it down to one-half; shortly before serving pile the peaches up high in a glass dish and pour the syrup over them cold.

Peach Compote

Take well-grown, yet somewhat unripe peaches; cut them in two, and take out the stones; put them in boiling water, and let them stay there till they are soft, then throw them in cold water till cold.

Peel them, put them in refined sugar, let them boil up several times, drain on the skimming-spoon, and put them in compote dishes; add some apple jelly to the peaches, let it boil to a thin jelly, and pour it over the fruit.

Compote of Peaches & Apricots

Blanch and skin, or peel; cut in halves and boil slowly in a light syrup till tender; serve in the syrup. The peaches may also be stewed whole in the same way.

Compote of Fresh Prunes (Plums)

Wash and prick all over, then stew in a thin syrup for about ten minutes from the time it begins to boil; let cool and serve.

Compote of Dried Prunes

Wash and soak the prunes overnight in cold water. Take from the water and put into fresh water; add a few slices of lemon, a stick of cinnamon and enough sugar to make a thin syrup; let boil very slow till the fruit has resumed the natural shape, then take off the fire and let cool.

Prunes should be handled carefully in serving, so as not to break the fruit. All other dried fruits should be prepared in the same manner. Peaches and pears sometimes require twenty-four hours soaking.

Compote of Plums

Choose 3 dozen large blue plums, cut them open on side, remove the pits and pare off the skins; boil 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water, put in the plums and boil a few minutes; pour them into a dish, cover with paper and let them cool.

When cold pour the plums onto a sieve and drain off all the liquid; put the syrup over the fire and boil 10 minutes; when cold put the plums into a glass dish and pour the cold syrup over them.

Compote of Prunes

Wash 1 pound French prunes in several waters, put them in a saucepan, add sufficient red wine to cover, add a small piece of whole cinnamon and the peel of 1 lemon and boil slowly for 2 hours, or until they are soft.

When done add 4 tablespoonfuls sugar and as soon as melted remove them from the fire; serve when cold in a glass dish.

Compote of Cranberries

Wash and pick over. To each quart of berries add one pound of sugar and half a pint of water to make a plain syrup; stew the berries slowly in the syrup till clear. To keep the berries whole do not stir much.

Compote of Gooseberries

Pick over and cut off tops and tails. To each quart of berries take one pound of sugar and half a pint of water; stew till tender and serve.

Compote of Strawberries and Raspberries

(Also Compote of Currants)

Wash and drain the berries on a sieve. Boil three pounds of sugar with one pint of water till it forms a thread on the finger, or to a thick syrup. Put the berries in the boiling syrup and let boil for a moment. Take off the fire and let cool. Currants may be made into a compote in the same manner.

Strawberry Compote

Take fine, not too ripe strawberries, wash them in cold water, and let them drain on a sieve; to one quart of strawberries, boil to a flake three-fourths of a pound of sugar, put in the berries, and let them all boil up gently once; care must be taken that they do not separate; skim them well, and put them in compote dishes.

Raspberry and currant compotes are prepared like the strawberry.

Compote of Raspberries

Pick over carefully 1 1/2 quarts raspberries, put them in a glass dish and set on ice; shortly before serving sprinkle over 2 tablespoonfuls sugar; press out the juice of 1 pint raspberries, put the liquid with the same quantity of sugar over the fire and boil 10 minutes.

Let it get cold and pour the syrup just before serving over the raspberries. Currant juice may be used instead of raspberry juice. A compote may also be prepared with half currants and half raspberries.

Compote of Blueberries

Wash and pick over the berries. Stew in a light syrup (one pound of sugar to one quart of water) till tender. Let cool and serve.

Compote of Rhubarb

Wash and peel the rhubarb; cut in even pieces and let boil for a few minutes. When nearly soft, strain off the water. For each pound of rhubarb take twelve ounces of sugar; put this in the water and boil to a syrup. Pour the syrup over the rhubarb and stew till tender. Let cool and serve.

Compote of Pineapple - I

Pare and core the pineapple and cut in slices; simmer in a rich syrup till done and clear.

Compote of Pineapple - II

Cut a large, ripe pineapple into thin slices, pare them carefully and remove the core in center; boil 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water; lay the pineapple slices into a dish and pour the syrup over them boiling hot.

Cover and let them stand 2 hours; shortly before serving lay the slices in a glass dish and pour the syrup through a fine sieve over them.

Cold Compotes of Fruit / Fruit Salads

Fresh fruits may be prepared in salads, single or in a pleasant combination, from a variety of fruits. The fruit is put in alternate layers in compote dishes, and also in small individual dishes.

Cold Compote of Oranges and Bananas

Prepare like the former recipe. Flavor with rum and decorate with cherries.

Compote of Bananas, Oranges and Coconut

Put in alternate layers in compote dish; sprinkle with sugar, pour over some sherry or claret and flavor with rum.

Cold Compote of Strawberries

Sprinkle large ripe berries with powdered sugar, and squeeze over the juice of sweet oranges (or use a nice port wine or sweet Catawba in place of the juice). Set on ice to cool and serve.

Compote of Strawberries

Press out the juice from 1 pint large, ripe strawberries and mix it with 6 tablespoonfuls sugar; shortly before serving wash and drain 1 1/2 quarts large, ripe strawberries, put them into a glass dish, sprinkle over 3 tablespoonfuls sugar, pour in half of the cold syrup, shake them up, pour over the other half and serve at once.

Compote of Oranges - I

Peel the oranges. Take off all skin and white pith. Cut in thin slices and remove the seeds. Sprinkle with sugar and pour over some sherry and a little maraschino. Set to cool and serve.

Compote of Oranges - II

Pare and cut 10 large oranges into slices, remove the pits and sprinkle 6 tablespoons sugar over them; let them stand 1 hour; drain off the syrup, put it over the fire; add the juice of 1 lemon and boil slowly 8 minutes; then set aside to cool; just before serving pour the syrup over the oranges and send to table in a glass dish.

Orange Compote - III

Take 8 oranges, and very thinly shred the rind of 2; peel all through the meat, the knife following the inner white skin; collect all the juice. Divide the oranges in sections, removing seeds, white pulp, and tough portions.

In a saucepan over the fire add 1 1/2 cups of water, as much sugar, 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, according to the sweetness of the fruit, and the shredded rind, stir until boiling, and boil 3 minutes.

Add half of the oranges, and simmer 30 minutes or until tender. Then, leaving the shredded rind in the syrup, with a skimmer lift the oranges out, put them in a bowl, then cook the remaining oranges as before.

When tender remove the oranges to bowl, as above, boil the syrup 3 minutes, and pour it on the oranges. Mandarin oranges cooked in this manner are very nice.

Serve cold with ice cream or with Bavarian Cream, or may be served with cakes as a plain dessert.

Pineapple Compote

Pare and core ripe pineapple and cut in thin slices. Sprinkle with sugar and pour over some white wine, or squeeze over the Juice of sweet oranges. Set to cool and serve.

Compote of Watermelon

Select a nice, ripe watermelon, cut it in half, then into slices, remove the black pits and cut the red part into small pieces; take for 1 quart of such pieces 2 cups sugar, 1 pint water, a piece of green ginger and the juice of 1 lemon.

Put sugar, ginger and lemon juice over the fire and boil 5 minutes; put in the melon pieces and boil slowly about 20 minutes; pour into a dish and cover with paper; when cold drain off the syrup, return it to kettle and boil 10 to 15 minutes.

Arrange the melon nicely in a glass dish and pour the cold syrup over it; remove the ginger before sending to table. The white part of the melon may be used for preserving. If the melon is a large one part of it may be used for compote and the other part cut up into slices and served. A third part may be used as a fruit salad.

Compote of Orange Baskets Filled with Fruits

Select seven oranges of equal size; with a small sharp knife cut out two quarters from the upper part of the fruit, so as to leave a band measuring a quarter of an inch wide; this band will form the handle.

Pass the knife all-round inside the band and level with the bottom pulp, and remove the piece of orange. With the edge of the bowl of a teaspoon detach the remaining pulp and dexterously^remove it, without tearing or in any way damaging the shape of the basket which will thus be formed.

As the baskets are so far prepared, let them be dropped into a pan of cold water, and give them a simmer in boiling water on the fire for three minutes. This process will soften the peel, and enable you to stamp out the handle and edges with a tin perforating cutter, so as to represent open work.

Cut out such portions of the edges of the peel as will complete the scallops. When all the baskets are ornamented, give them a gentle simmer with twenty-four degrees syrup in a sugar boiler, and put them aside in a basin with their syrup till the next day.

The syrup alone must be boiled up twice more, at intervals of several hours, and each time poured back on the orange baskets. When about to dish up the compotes, drain the baskets, fill them with a variety of small fruits of such kinds as are usually prepared for macédoines; these should be mixed with a little apple or orange jelly; pour over all some syrup flavored with maraschino.

Note.—Previously to cutting out the baskets, the oranges should be turned very thinly and spirally; this part of the process renders the fruit transparent.

Compote of Lemon Baskets

Proceed as for orange baskets, using cadrati or Citronelle liqueur to flavor the syrup.

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