Although you can use most any fruit for this compote, the pear is one of my personal favorites. Whether you get them from the tree or the market, select those pears that are very, very ripe. Depending on the type of pear, being ripe will range from a soft, pearly yellow, to a deep fragrant brown. At any rate, they should be ripe, soft, and fully developed. Ones that you might not use for eating raw, because they’re too “squishy,” are probably just about right. Besides, those are usually easy to find—everybody else usually leaves them. A good tip is to follow the fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), they will always lead you unerringly to the best, ripest fruit.
Cull out the ones that are too badly damaged or infested with insects. Wash them gently, peel, core, and cut into small chunks. When done cleaning and preparing, measure the fruit. The recipe will vary according to the amount of fruit you have for this purpose. One cup of fruit makes approximately 2 servings. If more servings are required you can extend the quantity with most any of the soft-fleshed fruits commonly available today. I have used apple, crabapple, plum, prune, peach, pineapple, mangoes, papaya, cherries, and various berries; although most any ripe fruit will do.
I recommend allowing two servings of compote per cup of fruit. Allow for all of the fruit, plus 1/3 of the pan depth for stirring and the rigors of the cooking process.
1/4-1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 whole clove
1/8 tsp powdered ginger (or a 1 inch long slice of fresh ginger)
squeeze of lemon and sliver of lemon peel
dash or two of Cinnamon (to taste)
In a pan sized to hold the ingredients plus some working room, bring to boiling on High to Medium-high. Reduce to Low/Simmer; cook uncovered until fruit becomes soft and pulpy. May be served hot from cooking, reheated, or cold from the refrigerator.
1. Use most any fruit. Cooking time may be reduced for previously frozen of canned fruit.
2. The amount of water used depends upon the moisture content of the fruit being used. The consistency should be like that of applesauce. If the compote looks too thick, add more water and cook covered. Too thin, cook uncovered until the liquid level is reduced.
3. If cooking 4 or more cups of fruit, a Cinnamon stick can be used.
4. The Ginger gives the compote its spicy bite. Use more or less as the flavor moves you. The same goes for the Clove and Cinnamon. In addition, you might experiment with Allspice, Mace, Nutmeg, and even Black pepper. Each has a unique contribution to the overall taste.
5. The lemon juice is used to keep fresh cut fruit from oxidizing. The peel is for the oil-of-lemon, a powerful flavor enhancer that adds a unique component. Use more or less to taste.
6. Some fruits don’t “gel” well. Use 1/8th tsp or more of powdered Arrowroot per 1/4-cup water to thicken.
7. Remember! As with all things of this kind; this is a recipe, not a chemical formula. You are encouraged to vary the ingredients and contents. Experiment. Find out what you like best, and then explore that…