Compote wasn’t just a Soviet cafeteria staple, it was an undisputed star. It had a perfect combination of sweet and tart. The pieces of fruit swimming inside were a dash of delight. I still remember trying to get friends to give me the fruit from their compote. “I will let you copy my math homework, if you let me have your fruit.” Sometimes it worked. The only problem was that they never gave us spoons with our compote. So the only two options were sticking your fingers in a glass to fish the pieces out or waiting until all the liquid was gone and tipping a glass over above open mouth and shaking the fruit out. Sometimes you missed and the fruit landed on the floor. That’s where we learned the meaning of “heart-break.”
It had been twenty blessed years since I finished high school and left Russia, but I still remember that instant sense of well-being brought about by a glass of compote in your hands. All was good in a world where you could finish your lunch with compote. I had heard the same sentiments from my Russian friends. (Can you hear me now?) But you know, sometimes a distance of years can improve things. A bit. Sometimes? So once I started having children I decided to recreate that cafeteria compote in my own kitchen and see, if I remember it right. Oh my, it was so good! It was even better than I remembered. If you grew up in Russia, you probably remember compote with great fondness, but didn’t get around to making it at home. Do it! We live only once! And if you’re a stranger to compote and never tried it before, be courageous! Give it a try!
This is a great alternative to soda, juice and sports drinks. It’s a healthy fruit drink full of vitamins, minerals and fiber and you can modify ingredients to your taste. The base of compote is fruit. Fresh fruit, dried fruit, it is especially good made with fresh berries. If you use fresh fruit, you can decrease the amount of added sugar. And if you use dried fruits make sure that it’s unsulfured and the only ingredient listed is fruit: no sugar, potassium sorbate or oil. The fresh or dried fruit is boiled in water with a bit of sugar until the water is infused with all the goodness. It’s chilled and served strained or with fruit floating in a glass.
It’s easy to can compote and maybe one day I will find time to post my method. But today I will just share a quick recipe for a compote made with dried fruit. I love all dried fruits but my absolute favorite is dried unpeeled peaches. I call it a super-food. Just one serving has 69% of daily requirement for Vitamin A, 38% of iron, 18% of Vitamin C, and 4% of calcium. The most popular combination for Dried Fruit Compote is half raisins and half dried apples. I also remember dried pears were a frequent guest in Soviet Cafeteria’s Compote. I just love dry peaches more than anything. If you are not used to prunes, do not use 2 cups of prunes as in my recipe. Replace prunes with raisins, or you might have to spend the next few hours in and out of the bathroom. On the other hand, if you need some help in that department, do use prunes.
Next I will share recipe for Kissel. What is Kissel? Another Soviet Cafeteria staple that I want to make for my kids.
What is on your drinking bucket list?