Stewed fruit

Stewed fruit

A delicious way to use up overripe fruit



We are now well into July, and all around me spring turns into summer.

In fact, in Welsh, the name for July is Gorffennaf (literally: end of summer). When we first moved here, I found that strange, because.... is July not the height of summer?

But after living here for a while and taking in what happens around me in the hedges, verges and fields, I now see that this word is perfectly in tune with nature:

In July - just after the summer solstice, as the days shrink again - the vegetation around me switches gears, from blooming to ripening, from flower to fruit. Instead of explosive new growth sprouting everywhere, everything slows down: flowers are fading and new shoots decline while seeds and fruit is forming (tiny wild strawberries are hiding in the hedges already).

It's the clockwork of nature switching to a completely different energy leading into the autumn harvest time. Soon there will be an abundance of fruit - in your garden, in the hedges, and at the greengrocers too.

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What to do with all that fruit?

Of course you can make jam. But jam making is quite a process, so you want enough fruit to do a batch that's at least a few jars worth. And you need quite a bit of sugar to make sure the fruit is properly preserved. Personally, so far at least, jam making is not something I ever got into.

My new favourite thing is making fruit compote (or coulis): basically, stewed fruit!

I did it a few times in winter with stewed apples, and it was gorgeous. Then I kind of forgot about it (there are seasons in the kitchen too) but I'm back to making it twice a week!

At the moment we have a lot of fragile apricots in the shop, so I have to keep picking out the spoilt ones - far too many to just throw away! Turns out stewed apricots are even more gorgeous!

Stewed fruit is quick and super easy, and you can make it in smaller batches: great to use up the pasts its best, squishy smudgy stuff. And will will keep for a few days in the fridge too (it never lasts past two days in our house).

We eat it for breakfast, as a snack or dessert, simply spooned over porridge, yoghurt, chia pudding, cream, ice cream, custard, panna cotta, on toast, on pancakes,...

The stewing concentrates the flavours, and softens the fruit into a silky melt-in-your-mouth consistency, and melds together any extra flavourings.

You can use any fruit you like!

Most fruits are quite sweet (and will get sweeter in the process) so just a spoonful or two of sugar/honey/maple syru is enough for a luscious result. Remember to add some acidity for contrast too - a bit of lemon (or orange) juice) works well.

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Some of my favourite combinations:

  • rhubarb with ginger and orange peel
  • apples/pears with cinnamon & cardamom
  • apricots/peaches with vanilla

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Whatever your fruit, it's really easy to make:

  • Chop up the fruit (if using smudged fruit cut off any offending bits first), and put in a pan
  • Add your flavourings, 1-2 spoonfuls of sugar/honey/maple syrup/etc, some citrus juice
  • I like adding just a splash of water to avoid sticking until the fruit juices start releasing (not sure this is necessary, though)
  • Bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer until the fruit is really soft
  • If your fruit released a lot of juice, simmer until it has reduced
  • Fish out any whole spices, like cinnamon sticks
  • Taste and adjust the acidity if necessary
  • Leave it chunky if you like (chunks should be falling apart anyway),or for a finer puree (a coulis rather than a compote) use a potato masher, put it through a blender or push through a sieve (a sieve will also hold back any bit of peel, but peel is good for you - it feeds your gut bugs!)
  • Spoon over anything and enjoy (hot or cold)
  • Keep any leftovers in the fridge and use up soon (it will keep fine for a few days but not forever - it's not jam)

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Are you going to give this a try?

Let me know what flavour combinations you come up with!



Categories: COOK, EAT

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