Spiced Plum Compote

A few days ago, it was baking hot outside – 30° here in London – but as we all knew, it was not going to last. We had hot days and warm evenings, but the mornings were crisp and cool. We knew we would be shivering under coats and scarves in a couple of weeks, and the seasonal produce has been providing a pretty clear steer as to what is coming.

And now it is indeed autumn! Leaves are turning and people are turning to cosy pubs with log fires. At this time of year, there are also plums everywhere, so time to enjoy them before they are gone.

I had a lovely bag of purple-blue Marjory plums sitting in the kitchen, but I’ve been so busy in the last week with work and travel that they were not being eaten. Slightly past their best to enjoy as they are, I decided to make a compote with them. It’s the perfect way to use fruit – very easy to make and still allows the flavour of the fruit to shine through. And making compote is just as magical as making jam – the golden flesh and dark skins of the plums were transformed into a deep ruby compote. Try it with Victoria plums and it turns a vibrant red. Mirabelles will turn into deep amber. Just like the colour of the leaves!

In a nod to the long-expected-and-now-here autumn weather, I made this recipe even more seasonal by using a good dash of my famous German Lebkuchen spice mix to add touches of cinnamon, cloves, aniseed and ginger.

Compote is simplicity itself. Fruit, sprinkling of sugar, a little water and leave to cook for simmer for thirty minutes. Job done. In my version, I just de-stoned and sliced it into quarters. I like the strips of skin which curl up and seem to become candied in the compote, but if you like a smoother compote with fewer “bits” you can of course chop the fruit into smaller pieces.

Finally, I planned to keep the compote for a few days to eat on yoghurt for breakfast, so I added one of the pits from a plum stone to the compote to give a hint of almond flavour. They are small but strong, so be warned – just the one will do it!

Compote on yoghurt is delicious and a classic pairing, but of course do not limit something so delicious to breakfast. It is great on pancakes or ice cream, but it makes a truly excellent  addition to chocolate – try a cake with a decent side of spicy plum compote and tell me that does not serve as the perfect antidote to cool days and chilly evenings. This also makes a lovely quick and easy jam for the impatient to spoon onto warm scones. No messing around with pectin, setting points or sterile jars. It doesn’t last as long as proper jam, but chances are that it is not going to last long enough for that to ever be an issue!

To make plum compote:

• large plums (Victoria, Greengage, Marjorie)*
• sugar (10g per plum)
• water (10ml per plum)
• ground spice, to taste

Rinse the plums and remove the stones. Cut into pieces (small or large, according to preference). Add the sugar, water, spice and kernel from one plum stone. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, or until the fruit has collapsed.

Mash the fruit slightly with a fork, then either serve as a sauce or store in a jam jar in the fridge for 2-3 days.

(*) For damsons, use 10g sugar per 3-4 plums, and for mirabelles, use 10g of sugar per 5-6 plums. Err on the side of caution, you can always add a little more sugar. And beware – do not use sloes for this recipe!

Worth making? This is the flavour of autumn! It is full of flavour, tangy yet sweet, and rounded off by the heady, rich aromas of spices that provide the hint of warmth when it’s chilly outside.

15 Comments

Filed under Recipe, Sweet Things

15 responses to “Spiced Plum Compote

  1. Gorgeous – love this on my porridge! Made some too but our plums were golden.

  2. Another fantastic plum recipe from you, I am now even more eager to find plums in our markets here in the US. Still waiting, unfortunately, as despite the cold weather we’ve been having on the East Coast the produce has yet to catch up.

    (As a rather lazy yet ambitious canner I too like to make compotes; thank goodness for refrigerators!)

    • Thanks. I’ve noticed here that plums are just starting to slow down, so I think the season may be coming to a dignified end. However, there are some bushes near where I live positively groaning with sloes – not great for jam (too astringent) but will make great sloe gin once the frost arrives.

      Happy canning!

  3. peasepudding

    Yum, I love the addition of the Lebkuchen spices, great idea, pretty scarce over here but i do have one packet spare!

    • Glad you liked it – it was just one of those flashes of inspiration. Was going to use cinnamon, then remembered the Lebkuchen spices for a more all-round gingerbread flavour.

      If you’re only got a little left, I do recommend making the spice mixture – it’s easy-peasy(pudding) – I’ve done a post on it here

  4. Tes

    What a beautiful color on those plum🙂 Your compote sounds so fresh and wonderful🙂

  5. Tasty! In Russia the word “compote” is a drink cooked from the mix of fruits and berries🙂

  6. Pingback: {2} Speculaaskruiden | LondonEats

  7. Kyle

    Great! I used about 2 tbsp / 30 ml of honey (a little less than 10 ml per plum) instead of sugar and it came out delicious.

  8. Jan

    It doesn’t say how much spice to use, I have a huge pan of plums (about 60) on the go. I made your lovely spice mix up

    • Hi Jan – I can’t really say how much, it really depends on how much spice you like. However, I would err on the side of caution and not add too much – you want it to be a little bit spiced, but not to over-power the plums. With 60 plums, try starting with a teaspoon and take it from there.

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