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.
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.
Some of my favourite combinations:
Whatever your fruit, it's really easy to make:
Are you going to give this a try?
Let me know what flavour combinations you come up with!