Winter fruit drink
As a child, the only fruit that was available to me in winter time was dried fruit. There was also a never-ending supply of apples from our orchard that were stored in the cellar all year long. Understandably, I would get bored of eating just apples, which were getting mushier and less flavoursome as time went on.
Recently I had a chance to look at some of my grandma’s recipes. I never got to meet her, but I know that she was a cook and was teaching culinary classes in a college. Among the hard-to-read recipes, I found a dried fruit compote recipe. When I say compote, I mean a sweet fruity drink that serves as a drink rather than a dessert. That’s what we call ‘compotes’ in Lithuania.
I’m always on the lookout for some interesting hot drinks, especially so in winter time, when it’s easy to get bored with having the same drinks over and over again. So I decided to give it a go and follow my grandma’s written guidance with some adjusments of my own.
Like with a lot of things in life – it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Essentially it is heating dried fruit in water, the simplest version of it being just pouring boiling water over them and letting them stew. My grandma’s recipe, however, suggests adding and removing each type of fruit individually to avoid any fruit overcooking and losing its shape. It also recommends scalding prunes with hot water prior to them being added to the pot – my guess is it’s to make the ‘compote’ as clear as possible.
Some dried fruit have sugar added to them, and others are just sweeter naturally. I’d say a bit of sugar will most certainly improve the flavour, so add a spoonful to start with and then adjust the flavour by adding more if necessary later on. A splash of lemon juice would help the overall flavour too.
1.5 l water
50 g muscavado sugar (caster sugar works well too)
250 g dried fruit (I recommend using dried apricots, dried apples, rasins)
1-2 cinamonn sticks
1/2 lemon juice
Bring water to the boil and mix in sugar.
You can add dried fruit separately, and cook it as long as it takes to soften it, and no longer. In this scenario you’ll get nice, plump and not mushy dried fruit. You can also just put them all in the pot and cook them for around 10 minutes. It will look less professional, but it will be just as tasty.
Once fruit are cooked remove them the liquid and put aside in a bowl.
Then add cinamonn sticks and cloves and simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes. Squeeze in some lemon juice. Now, using a sieve, pour this over the reserved dried fruit. And there you have it – a Lithuanian compote. You can enjoy it warm or cold.