Dried Fruit Compote

I just returned from the dazzling city of Fresno. OK, it was really gloomy and foggy, but I did get to meet a bunch of great people and gather a crate-load of information for an upcoming book celebrating 100 years of Sun-Maid.

Who knew raisins were so interesting? (Well … the Sun Maid people did, I guess.) I am so into California agriculture history right now, my kids are getting worried. I think they’re afraid I’m only going to serve them raisins from now on. (I’ll stop when this case of muscat raisins Sun-Maid gave me is gone.)

In honor of the start of this project, I offer you a way to use raisins other than in your oatmeal cookies. (Not that I am knocking them. I am a huge fan, although my kids think I make them because I am too mean to put in chocolate chips.)

Brace yourself for a few months of dried fruit recipes, as I uncover the wonder that is the world of Sun-Maid.

This recipe calls for the bosc variety of pear. These are the very pear-shaped pears with brownish skin and firm flesh.They hold their shape well for prolonged cooking, which makes them ideal here. If however you can’t find them, any pear will do, as will, for that matter, any apple.


1 pint dried black mission figs
1/2 cup dark raisins (try muscat raisins if you can find them!)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup zantee currants
4 bosc pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 vanilla bean, split
1/2 cinnamon stick, crushed
3 bay leaves, crushed

Zest and juice of 3 tangerines (or oranges)

1 TB. honey
1 cup apple juice
water to cover


  1. Trim fig stems, cut figs in half, and place in a medium saucepan. Add remaining dried fruit, pears, pomegranate seeds, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, tangerine zest and juice, honey, apple juice, and water, and set over high heat.
  2. At the boil, reduce heat to a bare simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Spoon warm over vanilla ice cream, spice cake or lemon cake, or serve along side  roasted meat, like pork, game meat, or dark-meat birds. Or mix it with your favorite grain. A spoonful stirred into brown rice with an added handful of sliced toasted almonds makes a fantastic pilaf.


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