Just as strawberries hit their seasonal stride – late may to early June – apricots arrive on the scene. As the strawberry season lengthens, so the apricot season seems to come earlier each year, which may be because those who tinker with the fruit we eat are always trying to lengthen seasons. It may also be climate change…who knows? In any case, what this happy coincidence means is that strawberries and apricots sit side-by-side at market stands for much of the summer, begging to become friends.
Friends For Life
And friends they are, as I found the other day. I had a mound of apricots in the fruit basket, their blush so perfect and innocent it was hard to think about eating them but eat them I must, I thought, as they turned increasingly tender and soft. I had guests coming for dinner and hadn’t settled on dessert so I cut the apricots in half, put them in a pan and added a bit of water and a bit of sugar, and put them over medium heat. In no time the liquid was bubbling and the kitchen was beginning to smell of honey, the aroma of cooking apricots.
The Smell of Honey
I turned to the fruit basket and noted that the strawberries I’d gotten that morning while still firm and bright might not make it through the day so I added them to the apricots. I gave the whole a quick stir and in no time the strawberries and apricots were sending a joint aroma into the kitchen that made me stop with its sweetness, its depth. I hadn’t ever cooked the two together, and when I went to give them a stir, I found beauty in the pan, the color of a vivid sunrise. It turned out the flavor of the two together was gorgeous, too.
What Kind of Coincidence?
This was either a happy coincidence or one dictated by nature, I’m not certain. But whatever it is I will repeat it. The thing is, a compote is simple to make, and it is a very French thing to do with seasonal fruits.
I let the compote cool and spooned it over fromage blanc for dessert, with butter cookies alongside. This made for a very French dessert, one that was rich and satisfying yet rather virtuous too, given that it was so fruit-forward, so sugar backward, so creamy in the center. I’ll serve it again, for certain.
Compote is Fleeting
Bear in mind that compote generally doesn’t contain much sugar so it only keeps a few days in the fridge as it can ferment in a thrice. But little sugar means lots of fruit flavor, so try to follow the recipe here. And if you have excess (which I recommend), freeze it. That way, you can have some in the winter when a beautiful sunrise in a bowl is even more welcome than now!
Maybe a Great Jam
I’m thinking this combination of fruit would make a beautiful jam, too. It would need more sugar, but that’s no sin. I’ll be sure to let you know if that is true!
Apricot and Strawberry Compote
- 2 pounds;1 kg apricots, pitted, left in halves
- ¼ cup;60ml water
- ½ cup;100g vanilla sugar
- ½ pint;250g strawberries, hulled, cut in half
- Place the apricots in a large saucepan, add the water, and place over medium-high heat. When the water begins to boil reduce the heat to medium and stir. When the apricots are nearly softened, about 15 minutes, stir in the strawberries and cook just until both fruits are soft through, and additional 8 to 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, remove from the heat and let cool. Serve at room temperature, or lightly chilled.