Get out all your fruits and give them a quick rinse under cold water. Here I’m using strawberries, rhubarb (that weird red celery-looking thing), and a peach.
Strawberries – Pull the leaves back and cut off the stem.
Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries – Just wash ‘em
Peaches and nectarines – Cut them into wedges and then pry them off of the pit one by one.
Cherries – Cut them in half around the equator and pry out the pit with your fingertips. Yes, you will look like you murdered some cherries. It’s okay. You will have delicious compote.
Rhubarb (goes well with strawberries!) – Cut into little pieces like you would with celery
Note: You don’t really need to cut the fruits into very small pieces, as they will naturally break down from the heat. Woo, less work for you!
Use a cup measure to measure roughly how much fruit you have, and add it to the pot.
Then, for each cup of fruit, add a mere 1 tablespoon of water. This may not seem like a lot, but trust me, it is. Summer fruit is full of water, and all those juices will leak out during the cooking process. This nominal bit of water is just to moisten the fruit and prevent it from burning in the beginning.
Here we go! Let’s turn on the stove.
As the pot heats up gradually, at first you’ll hear some sizzling as the tiny bit of water evaporates. Soon the fruit at the bottom will start to release their juices. Stir occasionally to move the fruit that’s at the top to the bottom.
As we cook, the fruit will break down more and more, and it will start to look a lot like fruit soup. This is good! We want fruit soup. Yum.
If the pot looks like it’s boiling too hard and creating a lot of foam, lower the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. Stirring will also reduce the foam.
Cook until the fruit has broken down completely and is quite soft. You can help this along by mashing the fruit with the back of your spoon. It will take about 10-15 minutes total for the fruit to completely mushify.
Now fish out a tiny bit of fruit and (blow on it—it’s very hot!) have a taste. It may be quite tart—which is ok, especially if you are serving this with something very sweet like ice cream!
However, if you plan on eating your compote with relatively bland stuff like oatmeal or plain yogurt, then you may want to add a bit of sugar. (Or honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, or any sweetener of choice. Me, I tend to prefer plain ol’ white sugar because it doesn’t mask the natural flavor of the fruit.)
I add a tablespoon of sugar at a time, stirring and tasting in between. That’s the only way you’ll know how much sugar to add. All fruits have different amounts of sugar in them to begin with, so I can’t give you a measurement that works for every situation. Just trust your taste buds!
Once your compote is to your liking, turn off the heat and let cool. Store in jars and you’re done!