Do you know the difference between jams, jellies, preserves, conserves, marmalades, fruit butter, and compotes?
If you don’t, let me walk you through it.
Let’s start from jams.
Jams are made from fruit that is chopped or crushed and cooked with sugar until the pieces of fruit are soft and lose their shape.
Jellies instead are made from juice, or better yet fruits are crushed and cooked to extract their juice. The mixture is strained through a fine mesh fabric to remove fruit solids. As a result jellies have a bright, crystal-clear consistency.
Conserves are jams made with a mix of fruit — sometimes even dried fruit or nuts. In other words, all conserves are jams but not all jams are conserves.
Preserves have instead large chunks of fruit. Sometimes people use the term preserves to refer to whole fruit or fruit cut into large uniform sized pieces stored in its own juices, syrup or even water.
Marmalades are different in that they’re soft jelly that contains pieces of fruit rind (usually citrus). They’re usually sweet and sour, and the fruit rind imparts tends to be bitter.
In fruit butters, the fruit is slow cooked with sugar for a longer period of time in order to achieve a smooth consistency and dense texture.
What about compotes then?
Compotes are usually made with fresh or dried fruit (whole or cut into pieces), briefly stewed and used immediately as a component of a dish.
If the fruit is pureed then it’s called coulis. If instead it’s a chunky mixture it’s a compote.
Now that you “scientifically” know what a compote is, let’s get down to business with this Ginger and Vanilla Bean Apricot Compote.
Soooo, apricots, what's NOT to love?
Like most fruit this time of the year, perfectly ripe apricots require very little to make them sing.
A bit of sugar (or honey) enhances their natural sweetness without making them lose their distinct tartness.
Vanilla adds a little complexity, while the ginger gives a bit of flare.
As they cook down apricots release their natural juices and slightly soften. The resulting compote is almost too perfect for words.
A fruit compote is a good thing to have on hand, especially if it's as versatile as this one.
As is, you can encourage its sweetness by serving it over yogurt for breakfast or over ice cream for an after-dinner dessert.
Note. This compote can be made 2 to 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Makes 2 cups, serves 4
1lb / 16 oz / 453 gr firm ripe apricots, halved and pitted
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or lemon juice)
2 to 3 tablespoons raw coconut palm sugar (or honey or brown sugar if you don’t care about the paleo thing)
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and bean reserved (or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
Fresh tarragon or fino verde basil leaves (optional)
In a large skillet combine apricots, lime juice, sugar, ginger, seeds from the vanilla bean, and the bean shell.
Cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until apricots are glazed and syrupy, about 7 to 8 minutes tops. Transfer to a small bowl and chill.
Serve apricot compote with yogurt or ice cream, and garnish with tarragon or fino verde basil leaves, if desired.
One serving yields 80 calories, 1 gram of fat, 19 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of protein.