Last year my neighbor’s apple trees produced in abundance. This year it was the pear trees and so I eventually got a bushel of pears. Off I went in search of pear recipes I might adapt to my needs and tastes.
I’ve always been a big fan of warm fruit. There’s nothing better than a piece of hot apple or cherry pie with a big dollop of vanilla ice cream. This time, I was not in the mood to make a pie. I found a great recipe for making an upside down pear cake that I adapted and will post later. But what I really wanted to make was a pear compote.
A compote is basically fruit cooked in water and spices. This particular compote is cooked in butter and lemon juice along with sugar and vanilla. Now doesn’t that sound good. So let’s talk fresh pear compote…
Lesson Learned 1 – All the tedious work is in the prep: To make this compote you need to peel and slice the pears. The pears I got from my neighbor were, on average, smaller than the ones you buy in the grocery store. So I had to spend more time peeling and slicing. Keep in mind that pears, like apples, will turn brown (oxidize) when peeled and exposed to air. To slow down that process until you’ve got everything prepped, just sprinkle a little lemon juice on the pears. That will prevent oxidation until you’re ready to cook them. Every time you slice another pear and drop it in the bowl use your hands to toss it in with the others so that some lemon juice gets on it. There’s no need to add additional lemon juice every time you add another sliced pear to the bowl, unless you’re doubling or tripling the recipe. You really need only a small amount of lemon juice, a tablespoon or so.
Also make sure you slice the pears thinly. They will cook more evenly and will mash thoroughly if you slice them thinly before you cook them.
Lesson Learned 2 – Don’t be afraid to add the ingredients to taste: My recipe requires very little sugar due to the sweetness of the fresh fruit Most compote recipes I read called for less than one teaspoon of cinnamon. The beauty of this recipe is it’s very adaptable. Once you mix the ingredients, taste the pears before you cook them. If you feel you need to add more sugar or cinnamon, add it. I also love the taste of vanilla extract in the recipe but I found that a little vanilla goes a long way. But those are my tastes. Make this recipe work for you. Just remember to err on the safe side as you can always add more but you can’t take it away once you’ve added it.
Lesson Learned 3 – This compote can be served hot or cold: Although traditionally compote is designed to be served hot, this compote tastes divine hot or cold. I would make a bowl of hot oatmeal and put some chilled compote on top and it was an insanely delicious combination. You can serve this warm with a cheese platter, or put it on crusty bread. Anyway you choose to serve it, this recipe is a winner.
It’s amazing to me how simple this recipe is. After I made pear compote I used the same recipe to make apple compote and it was fabulous. I certainly hope that you try this one.
[recipe: title=”Fresh Pear Compote…” time=”45-50 Minutes” servings=”6-8″ difficulty=”Easy”]
6 large pears
1 medium sized lemon, juiced and zested (plus an additional tablespoon of juice to put on pears while slicing them)
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon (start with 1/2 and add more to taste)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 tsp. cornstarch
Peel the pears and slice them thinly. (coat them with a little lemon juice to prevent oxidation before you’ve completed pealing all the pears). Once pealed, combine pears with all of the ingredients except the butter and cornstarch.
Melt the butter in a deep sauce pan. Add the pear mixture and cook for at least five minutes on medium high heat, or until the pears are tender and can be mashed.
Remove the pears from the heat. Mash them inside the same pot. After mashing them stir in the cornstarch. NOTE: Add the cornstarch a little at a time to avoid clumping.
Put the pears back on the stove and simmer covered for an additional 20 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.