Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Stewed summer fruits

Question: Should you buy fruit just because they look really really nice and are going cheap?

Answer 1: No. (Reasoning: Why are they cheap? Because they're probably not very edible.)

Answer 2: Yes. (Reasoning: They look nice. They're cheap! You get loads and loads of it cheap! Did I mention they're cheap? What's not to like? Buy buy buy!)

Guess which answer is mine? Yep, Answer 1.

Answer 2, naturally, is Pete's. And since he was shopping on his own, he bought rather a lot of peaches, plums and apricots.

The idea was sound, the fruits weren't. They were sour. (This is why I like canned peaches and apricots better than fresh!) They continued being sour even though we gave them generous amounts of time to ripen to sweet, instead of which they began to go soft. And still stayed sour.

I was loathe to waste all the fruit, and I really didnt know what to do with the darn things. I didnt want to make jam. There arent many takers for jam at home, funnily enough.

So I trawled my trusty Net for ideas, and came upon Jamie Oliver's stewed fruit crumble. It's a pity that I didnt get to the review (link below) until after I'd put the fruits in the hot syrup! Otherwise I would have known to peel and pit the fruit before stewing them. (On the other hand, perhaps leaving the peel on helped retain the shape of the fruit, I dunno.)

By the way,
the review by The Cookbook Critic is absolutely spot on! I had the exact same doubts as the writer, especially when it came to removing the stones and peel from the fruit - yikes, the syrup was hot, and I missed a couple of pits that only made their presence felt when Pete nearly cracked his teeth on one! And yes, I too cursed like a shipful of sailors.

Anyway, I used peaches, apricots, plums, an apple and strawberries. LOTS of fruit! The main thing I took from Jamie's recipe was how to make the syrup to stew the fruit. I didnt make the fruit into a crumble rightaway, though (That's material for another post and in any case I didnt use Jamie Oliver's crumble recipe!).

Recipe for:
Stewed summer fruits


6 apricots
6 plums
1 apple
3 peaches
a handful of strawberries
2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
zest of one orange


1. Peel, core and pit the fruit (as appropriate). Hull and halve the strawberries lengthways.

2. Put the sugar and 1-1/4 cup water in a high-sided pot (if you have one) or use a big one that can accommodate all the fruit.

3. Place on the heat, and when it starts to warm up, add the vanilla extract, the cloves, cinnamon stick, star anise and orange zest.

4. Bring to the boil and let it bubble until the liquid becomes clear.

Remove the whole spices.

5. Turn the heat down to a simmer and put the apple and peaches in.

Let it cook for about 4 minutes, then add the remaining fruit (minus the strawberries).

6. Simmer the fruits slowly for 5 minutes, turning them over occasionally to make sure they all get the benefit of the syrup.

7. Then add the strawberrie and simmer for another two minutes.

8. Let the fruit sit in the syrup for all the flavours to develop.

Serve the stewed fruit warm with some of the syrup and icecream or cream.


Sharmi said...

that is a very informative post. but somehow I prefer fresh fruits.

Priyanka said...

I prefer the fresh fruits too... but i know what you are talking about...i got some plums, peaches and apricots from whole foods yesterday and some of them turned out to be sour... great recipe... i made a compote of the fruits and served it with pancakes:)

Anonymous said...

Sharmi: I like fresh fruit too, but not sour ones, not at any cost!

Priyanka: Yep, best thing to do with sour fruits! :)

Raaga said...

Hi Shammi,

I made something similar... no cook book though :-) and no crumble :-)

I mashed mine and the pits came on to the masher!!!