Blackberry compote

Blackberry compote

Composta di more

By
From
Tuscany
Makes
450 g
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

Preserving fruit is something many countryside-dwelling Tuscans do. Most of our Italian friends never weigh anything or follow an exact recipe, as the proportions of fruit and sugar depend on the size and sweetness of the fruit in season. Our friend Nick Sandler, a keen preserver whom we met through writing our book The Gentle Art of Preserving, has followed in the Italian tradition of storing summer fruits for winter use and gave us a jar of his compote after a blackberry picking session. A composta such as this is ideal at breakfast with yoghurt and walnuts, or with cream for a dessert. Our son Flavio puts a spoonful on his oats and yoghurt, and it is superb.

Depending on the sweetness of the blackberries, you can use more or less sugar. We try to use the minimum. The cherry brandy is optional; leave it out or substitute it with brandy or rum. As this recipe makes a small amount you can simply keep the compote in the fridge without worrying about preserving techniques, but I have given the instructions for sterilising should you want to make more. The filled jars do need to be boiled to create a vacuum as there is not enough sugar or alcohol alone to preserve them out of the fridge.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500g blackberries
1-2 tablespoons cherry brandy, (optional)
1-2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Method

  1. Put the blackberries in a saucepan with the other ingredients and bring to a gentle boil. Heat through for 5 minutes, stirring gently. The berries will start to release water and soften. Small blackberries will take just 5 minutes to soften, but large ones can take up to 10 minutes.
  2. Taste the liquid and adjust the brandy (if using) and sugar as necessary. The compote can be eaten straight away (it is delicious warm with vanilla ice cream) or left to cool. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Alternatively, follow the instructions for preserving the blackberries in jars below.

Preserving blackberries in jars

  • First of all, clean your jars by pouring boiling water into them up to the top (I do this in the sink) and put the lids into a bowl of just-boiled water for 10 minutes. This method is better for jars with metal lids lined with plastic coating rather than Kilner-style jars. The jars can be recycled ones but the lids should be new to ensure a tight seal.

    Tip away the water from the jars using a pair of tongs. Spoon the low-sugar preserve or compote evenly between the jars and pour over the juices. The level of liquid should completely submerge the fruit, so add a little boiled water if necessary. Drain and screw on the lids with a clean cloth. The jars can either be cooled at this point and stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or they can be further sterilised to extend their shelf life as follows.

    Put a clean tea towel (dish towel) in the bottom of a large saucepan big enough to hold the filled and sealed jars, and deep enough to be able to cover them with water. Put the jars into the pan and put a piece of paper towel or a small cloth between all the jars. Fill the pan with water so that the jars are completely covered. Put the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let it bubble gently for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat. Allow the jars to cool in the pan. When the water is at room temperature, remove the jars and check that there is a depression in the lids. This means you have created a vacuum and your jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. If they have not created a vacuum, store them in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Caldesi
Tuscany
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