A fruit parfait with the ingredients in the background
Photography, Diana Muresan

Fruit Compote

Prevent kitchen waste by using overripe fruits to make this simple compote.

Compote – which roughly translates to ‘stewed fruit’ – is a classic French recipe of fruits cooked in syrup, with or without the addition of spices and seasonings. For writer and food advocate Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, it’s a great opportunity to cut down on kitchen waste by using fruit that might otherwise expire. In her new book, Good Food, Healthy Planet: Your Kitchen Companion to Simple, Practical, Sustainable Cooking, Chhitwal-Varma writes:

“I don’t remember ever seeing fruit being thrown away when I was growing up. Before heading to the farmers’ market – or the veggie thela cart that would pull up outside our house – my mom would check the fridge and take a quick inventory so she knew what was still in there. If there was too much fruit one week, or if unexpected bruises emerged, my mom would wash the fruit and then dump it all in a pan and make a sauce. Several years ago, I discovered that the fruit sauce my mom made every week to avoid food waste was a variation of French compote – a rather straightforward method that extracts flavour and beauty from a bowl of mushy, past-its-best fruit.” Drizzle it on yogurt, make parfaits or use it as a dessert topping.

A fruit parfait with the ingredients in the background

Fruit Compote

Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma's recipe for fruit compote made with overripe or nearly-spoiled fruits.
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine French
Servings 4 cups


  • 4 cups overripe fresh fruit any kind (see note)
  • 4 Tbsp cane sugar brown sugar or maple syrup (approx.)
  • 2 tsp lime juice approx. 1/2 lime
  • water as needed starting with 1/2 cup


  • Rinse the fruit and trim any mouldy bits. Add the fruit, sugar, lime juice and water to a saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn it down to simmer for about 30 minutes. Add more water if the mixture looks like it’s drying up. I cook the fruit down until it is soft and has just lost its shape. Cook time will vary depending on the fruit.
  • Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if needed. Chill and refrigerate in a clean jar with a lid for up to 2 weeks.
  • This sauce can also be frozen and then thawed and used as needed. If a lot of liquid has been released by the fruit and the consistency is runny, you can add 1⁄2 tsp chia seeds and chill the mixture for 30 minutes. Chia seeds are hydrophilic and will absorb the extra liquid.


I love this sauce plain, but sometimes spices add a touch of elegance. Here are some fruit and spice combinations that work:
  • Peaches, nectarines + nutmeg
  • Skin-on apples + cinnamon
  • Blueberries, strawberries + vanilla
  • Skin-on grapes (green, pink or red), no spices needed

More recipes from Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma

Simple Hummus
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma’s easy recipe for classic hummus, with optional garnish variations.
Get the recipe
Dishes of hummus with different garnishes, vegetables and crackers

Scrap Vegetable Stock
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma's instructions for making a versatile stock with leftover vegetable scraps.
Get the recipe
colourful vegetables sitting on table.

Turkish-Style Eggs
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma's recipe for cilbir (Turkish poached eggs served with a garlicky yogurt sauce and spiced butter).
Get the recipe
A grey dish with eggs and small toasts on a matching grey surface with garnishes, more bread and a fork also visible on the table

A book cover in a light tan frame

Recipe excerpted from Good Food, Healthy Planet by Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma. Adapted for ELLE Gourmet. Copyright © 2024 by Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma. Reprinted with permission of TouchWood Editions (touchwoodeditions.com).
Share this article:

Sign up for our Good Life newsletter and get a FREE Easy Week Night Dinners Recipe Booklet

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.