How to Make Russian Fruit and Berry Punch: Compot
From My Grandma's Kitchen to Yours!
I have been drinking compot for as long as I can remember. It has always been there, just sitting on the stove or in the fridge, waiting for me to come and drink some. I think that compot was the drink I had most often in the summer when I was little. Sometimes I drank a bit of tea on colder days, sometimes milk, but my favourite was compot. Since there never was a precise recipe to follow, it always tasted a bit different, even if the same ingredients were used and especially during different times of the summer. I remember compot tasting rather sour during the time when cranberries ripened and being nearly black during blueberry season. Today I will teach you what I learned about compot since I began preparing it for myself.
What Is Compot?
A compot is a popular Russian fruit and berry beverage and a much healthier alternative to soda pop. It can be made and enjoyed any time of year since no specific ingredients are required. What makes this drink so convenient to make is that it uses whatever you have in your kitchen: each of the suggested ingredients can be easily substituted without having a negative impact on the taste. If making this compot in the winter, you can use less water and more fruit/berries. Then, when drinking you can add 1/3 to 1/2 cup compot and the rest boiling water to your cup for a warming drink!
Picking the Perfect Ingredients for Your Compot
There really is no set list of ingredients that one must use to prepare Russian fruit and berry punch. The majority of people simply use what they have available in their kitchen and adjust the quantities of each ingredient as they go.
Sweet or Sour?
Some people like it sweeter; others prefer a more tarty taste, sometimes you have too many apples, other times you have too many pears. It's impossible to come up with a recipe that will work for every time.
Water Is a Must-Have Ingredient
This is the one ingredient that I am sure you'll need. And in large quantities. Although, of course, it depends on how much you want to prepare. I usually fill up the saucepan I plan to use with water until around 3-5 cm from the top. That leaves more than enough room for the fruits and berries. If you're desperate for a quantity, go with 2 L of water. You can always add more later on if you wish to dilute the taste.
Add Something Sour to Give Your Compot a Tangy Taste!
This gives the compot a nice flavour combination. Choose an ingredient or two from this list, even if you wish to prepare a sweeter drink. In that case, just add more sugar or sweet fruits.
- Lemon — I always make sure to squeeze at least a slice of lemon into my compot, regardless of what other sour ingredients I intend to use. The lemon really adds that special hint of sourness to your drink. The choice is obviously yours, but I throw the lemon slice into the saucepan after squeezing the juice.
- Lime — Depending on what you have available, you can use a slice of lime instead of the lemon. Limes tend to be sourer than lemons, so use a smaller slice if you don't want to have such a strong hint of sourness in your drink.
- Cranberries — I use frozen cranberries. The majority of them don't burst during the cooking process, which results in an original sour explosion in your mouth when drinking the compot after.
- Raspberries — I usually end them at the end if I notice that the compot is tasting a bit too bland. Today I added too much, and it got too sour! Had to save my compot with more sugar.
- Oranges — They give the compot a tropical taste. I find that they don't go too well with berries, but that's my own personal preference. If using oranges, I like to add other more tropical fruits as well, such as mangoes, pineapples, even part of a grapefruit once
You are definitely not limited to these ingredients, feel free to try others as well! These are just the ones that I commonly use and can tell you a few things about them.
Or Add Something Sweet
Sugar is an obvious choice, but it's also nice to have a sweet fruit or berry in there as well. Besides, some people want their compot to be an entirely healthy drink and refuse to add sugar altogether.
- Sugar — Add a bit, stir and taste. Repeat this every time you add some sugar. It is very easy to go from 'a tad too sour' to 'this is so sweet!!!'. I prefer brown or golden sugar, but white sugar works just as fine.
- Apples — A very common addition since everyone has them. I cut and peel mine before adding them, but peeling isn't necessary. My favourites are green apples, but since those are expensive, I tend to save them for eating raw and use whatever other apple kinds I have for the compot.
- Strawberries — Some are sour, some are sweet, but the majority are sweet, so it's a good addition to your compot. Don't require cutting, nor peeling, so these are a very quick add.
- Plums — These could also fit in the sour section, but I am always lucky enough to come across sweet plums. Remove the pit, cut them into a few pieces, and you're good to go.
- Pears — Similar to apples, you can peel them or just chop them up.
- Bananas — Tried adding them to my compot for the first time today and I wouldn't say that I'm very impressed. Couldn't notice any hints of bananas while enjoying the compot, but it's better to add an unnoticeable ingredient, rather than throw it out.
Spices to Add to Your Compot
This is totally optional, but I find that it makes the compot a lot more appealing.
- Cinnamon — I always add it to everything, even if the recipe doesn't call for it.
- Nutmeg — I sometimes add it for the smell, but only a small pinch.
- Ginger — I like its smell, but I don't like to mix it with cinnamon.
- Put some water to boil in a saucepan. While it's heating up, prepare your other ingredients, whichever ones you've decided to use. Peel cut and wash, as needed.
- Reduce heat to low once the water boils. I add the hardest ingredients first, so that there is no risk of overcooking the softer fruits and berries. You could also add them all at once and remove the saucepan from the stove once you're satisfied with the taste.
- Stir occasionally. Taste the liquid after you've added everything you meant to add. Add something else if the taste is a bit off. I've discovered that honey does wonders, and is much healthier than sugar anyways.
- Continue stirring and tasting occasionally. Turn off the heat once you like the taste. The compot can be drunk hot as well as cooled. I usually let it cool in the saucepan for a couple of hours and then transfer it to a fridge, sometimes I pour it into a jug or large bottle.
- And what about the fruits and berries floating on top? Some people prefer to get rid of them by straining the compot, but I like to keep them. I like the taste and nutrients. When serving the compot add some liquid and a few fruit and berry pieces to your glass, as desired
Don't Make a Mistake Straining
"Strain the compot please," I asked my little brother. Next thing I saw was him standing in front of the sink, staring in confusion at the pile of cooked fruits in the cheesecloth in his hands. Fruits are healthy and good, but not when I was so eager to drink some compot!
Whatever you do, don't forget to put another saucepan or container under your cheesecloth if you do decide to get rid of the fruits from your compot.
While this may be a , it can totally work for other things as well. The manufacturers just never tried compot before. It's a bit of an investment, but contrary to a cheesecloth, it is so easy to clean! Just turn it upside down and put it under some running water and a few seconds later you're done. It also clips right on to the saucepan, so there's no risk of burning your fingers while pouring out the liquid. Besides, maybe you'll even end up using it for its original purpose! pasta strainer
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