This post is created in partnership with Northwest Cherry Growers.
A bowl of fresh, sweet Northwest cherries is one of the true glories of summer.
Once you’ve feasted on a bowlful (which we plan on doing quite frequently), you'll want to seize the moment and preserve them to enjoy when cherry season is over.
And what better way to continue celebrating cherries than with a simple compote featuring a hint of orange and balsamic vinegar? Spoon it over pancakes and waffles, make a breakfast yogurt parfait, or add it to your next cheese plate.
What Is a Compote?
At its most basic, a compote is a mixture of chunky fresh or dried fruits that are cooked down in their own juices (or other juice), typically with a little sugar.
For this compote, cherries are so naturally sweet that you actually need very little sugar (and if you're looking for a low-glycemic sweetener, coconut sugar would work well in this recipe).
Who knew that so few ingredients could create such a luscious treat? The balsamic vinegar adds rich layers of sweetness and the orange juice and zest balance the flavor and compliment the sweet cherries perfectly.
How to Shop for the Best Cherries?
Northwest-grown cherries are known for their large, plump fruit and super sweet flavor. Lucky for us, they're available across the country now through early August.
When shopping, look for cherries with firm, shiny and smooth skins. With the exception of Rainier cherries, the darker the cherry, the sweeter the flavor – exactly what we're going for with this recipe!
How to Store and Freeze Cherry Compote?
The season is fleeting, so you’ll definitely want to double or triple this recipe and freeze some for later.
To store your compote, place the warm mixture into glass jars, let cool, then place lids on and refrigerate for up to one week.
For longer storage, pour the compote into freezer-safe plastic bags and freeze. The compote will last in the freezer for as long as one year, but will be best if consumed within six months.
Fresh Cherry Compote
- 1 pound whole unpitted Northwest cherries
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Pit the cherries:
Use a cherry pitter to remove the cherry pits and cut them in half, leaving a few whole cherries if you like. Once pitted, you should have about 2 1/2 cups cherries.
If you don’t have a cherry pitter, gently press on the cherries with the heel of your hand to flatten them. The pressure loosens the pit from the fruit and the cherries are easy to break in half with your fingertips so you can remove the pits.
Cook the cherries:
In a medium non-reactive saucepan, combine the pitted cherries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Adjust the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for about 4 minutes, or until the cherries release their juices and the sugar dissolves.
Cool the compote:
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Pour into a clean glass jar, let cool to room temperature, cover with the jar's lid and refrigerate.
The compote will keep, refrigerated for up to 1 week. It can be frozen for up to 12 months.