An overabundance of overripe fruit leads to deliciously versatile plum compote.
I glanced down at the cutting board and it looked like a crime scene out of Dexter. My hands were covered with red, the knife was stained. It looked … incriminating.
But it was all very innocent — really! I was just doing what cooks everywhere do this time of year, sitting on a boatload of fast-ripening fruit and needing to do something with it now. In my case, it was a few pounds of very-ripe plums destined to become this Plum Compote with Cardamom.
And that’s the thing with summer fruit. Once you’ve gobbled the bounty out of hand, chopped it up over yogurt, and topped it with whipped cream for quick dessert, you’ll still. have. more. That “what now?” challenge can become a bit of an obsession for some. Luckily, there are many ways to enjoy all that fruit:
Throw it in a pie. Or its more rustic cousin, the free-form crostata (known as a galette to the French). I know — duh! It’s a classic, and for good reason. Few things are more delectable than warm fruit encased in pastry.
Spin it into a sauce. Personally, I prefer summer fruit in savory dishes, where the sweetness and acidity of the fruit add a bright note to richer fare. This Salmon with Agrodolce Blueberries has become one of my all-time summer faves. And I love turning stone fruit in to spicy-sweet salsa.
Make jam. This is a classic way to preserve that summer flavor. If you’re not making a lot, you can go the refrigerator route, as I do with this recipe. But if you want to enjoy the flavor all year long, you’ll need to make it a full-blown canning project.
- Don’t worry about peeling the fruit — the skin adds lovely deep color and it will soften as the compote cooks. And you can use any stone fruit in place of the plums, or use a combo of whatever you have on hand.
- This not-to-sweet compote uses just a touch of brown sugar, but gets most of its sweetness from the fruit. I love it stirred into Greek yogurt for breakfast or dolloped on cheesecake. But it also plays well in savory dishes. Try it with pork or chicken.
- Cardamom is a warm, sweet spice, a cousin to cinnamon (which you could use in place of cardamom). Lately, I’ve been using kafe hawaij (kaff-ay huh-wai-adge). That’s a Middle Eastern blend of warm spices, including cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and clove. Some call it the Middle Eastern pumpkin pie spice.
Plum Compote with Cardamom
2 pounds very ripe plums, pitted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom (or cinnamon or kafe hawaij)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a lively simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened and reduced to about 2 cups. Stir it occasionally so the compote doesn’t scorch.
Transfer to a clean, 1-pint jar and cool to room temperature (the compote will thicken more as it cools). Store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Makes about 2 cups.