As we come to the end of summer, the nights are drawing in, but with the autumn comes a bountiful harvest. The perfect time to make the most of all the seasonal fruit available in shops and in nature.
Inspired by a bag of pears I had in the fridge that were starting to look a bit sorry for themselves, I decided to make some pear and blackberry compote earlier this week. A delicious, nutritious addition to everything from porridge to yoghurt.
Not only are fruit compotes delicious, they provide fibre, polyphenols and a range of vitamins and minerals. Stewing the fruit also makes it easier to digest.
Picking and storing blackberries – the open freezing method
We’re heading in to peak blackberry season. With a bountiful harvest available, it’s easy to pick more than you need and store them in the freezer for use later in the year.
If you’re intending to freeze your blackberries rather then use them straight away, the ‘open freezing’ method is best. This way you’ll get individual berries you’re able to select and use as you wish, rather than one solid blackberry lump!
- Take your freshly picked blackberries. DO NOT wash them at this stage. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking tray, covered with baking paper.
- Remove any debris or stalks
- Place the tray in the freezer and leave 24 hours, until the berries are frozen.
- Remove from the tray and place in a freezer bag or other suitable container and place back in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
- When you’re ready to use the blackberries, remove as many as you need, allow to defrost and wash them at this point before serving. I sometimes simply pour boiling water over the frozen berries to semi-defrost them and wash them at the same time.
This method works for all kinds of fruit, as well as other vegetables such as beans.
Pear and blackberry compote recipe
- 5 pears chopped into 1cm chunks (skin on)
- 3 handfuls of blackberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract/ essence
- Raw honey to taste (optional)
Add the chopped pear and blackberries to a pan, along with the vanilla essence and honey (if using).
Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 min or until the cubes of pear are soft, but still hold their shape.
Leave to cool and decant into storage jar, or use a portion to make some chia seed jam (see below).
Store in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze if you’d like to keep it longer.
Chia seed jam
To increase the versatility of the compote further, I converted some of it in to chia seed jam. This is super easy to do, you simply take your compote of choice and add chia seeds to thicken.
The chia seeds will swell to produce a jam-like consistency within about 30min. Store in the fridge (for up to a week) for use on toast, oatcakes and anything else you can think of! You get the great taste and convenience of jam, with the added bonus of protein fibre and healthy omega-3 fats from the chia seeds. All with no added sugar!
I used approximately 1tbs of chia seeds to 3 tbs of fruit compote. You may need to vary the quantities depending on how thick or liquid your original compote is. I chose not to add any sweetner to my jam as the compote was sweet enough already, but you could add a little honey to taste if you wish.