Cherry compote


Homemade cherry compote is ideal with yoghurt or on porridge

When fresh cherries are available I just love to make this compote which is so much fruitier than most shop bought versions. Indeed, because I like cherry compote on my porridge so much I typically make over 10 kg (20+ lb) per year! But if you don't like porridge please don't stop reading! Cherry compote is also superb stirred into yoghurt and it is great with some whipped cream on top of pannkakor (pancakes) or våfflor (waffles).

Compote or jam?

Is this a recipe for cherry compote or cherry jam? The answer may depend on where you live, but in the UK it is a compote because most of the cherries are left whole. (Cherries in syrup is also referred to as cherry compote.) Cherry jam is more spreadable because usually all the cherries are chopped up, normally into quarters. 

Sylt, marmelad and kompott

In Sweden cherry "jam" comes in three forms:
körbärssylt (a very lightly set cherry jam) - follow the recipe below, but quarter the cherries and only boil for 3 minutes to produce a very light set;
körbärsmarmelad (a firmer set cherry jam that spreads well) - follow the recipe below, but quarter the cherries;
körbärskompott (cherry compote) - whole cherries in a spiced syrup or as below.

Cherries lack pectin

Cherries don't have much pectin in them, so if you use sugar without added pectin the compote will take a lot longer to reach a setting point (20-25 minutes), but the method is exactly the same and it will still taste fantastic! John Duxbury


Recipe summary for cherry compote


A cherry stoner, available quite cheaply from good kitchen shops

• Stoning cherries is much easier if you use a cherry stoner. They are available quite cheaply from good kitchen shops.

Removing the stones from cherries

• Take care to ensure that no stones remain in the compote because it could be a choking hazard for small children. I do this by removing the stone into a small bowl, which also helps to avoid the juice splashing everywhere! Check that you have definitely removed the stone, then transfer the pitted cherry to a large bowl and remove the stone from the small bowl.

A bowl of Lapin cherries

• The amount of sugar required depends on the variety of cherries used and how sweet you like your compote. I tend to use Lapins, a juicy, dark ruby-red variety which is fairly sweet. With sour cherries, such as Morello, I would use equal weights of fruit and sugar.

A jar of vanilla paste

• For a little extra flavour, stir in 1½ teaspoons of vanilla paste or 40 grams of grated dark chocolate before transferring the compote to glass jars.
• I have never had much success with jam thermometers as they seem too slow to respond, so I recommend using the "saucer test" as described below.
• Do not attempt to make a larger quantity than indicated below as it is likely to boil over.
• If you are new to making jam, I recommend checking out our Top Tips for homemade jam.


1.2 kg (2½ lb) sweet cherries, stoned*
1.0 kg (2¼ lb) jam sugar
2 tbsp   lemon juice
1-2 g (¼-½ tsp) butter
1½ tsp   vanilla paste, optional

*About 1.3 kg (2¾ lb) before stoning. 


1. Wash and stone the cherries, taking care to ensure that no stones are left. Cut about a quarter of the cherries into quarters, but leave the rest whole.

Stoned cherries after macerating in sugar and lemon juice

2. Add the sugar and lemon juice, stir well and leave to macerate for a couple of hours, until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Just before you are ready to start heating the macerated cherries, sterilise your jars (20 minutes at 120°C, 250°F, gas ½) and any rubber seals (10 minutes in boiling water). It is important that you only sterilise your jars and seals a short time before you are ready to fill them to ensure they are still warm when you fill them.

4. Place 4 or 5 saucers in your freezer.

Cherry compote boiling rapidly

5. Empty the macerated cherries into a jam pan or a large deep saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally to ensure that all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan. Boil rapidly for six minutes and then remove from the heat.

Doing a "saucer test" with some cherry compote

6. Take one of the saucers from the freezer and spoon a little of the mixture on to the saucer. Wait one minute, then run your finger through it. If it's ready if crinkles slightly, feels tacky and it will not run down the saucer if it is held vertically.

7. If it is not quite ready, boil rapidly again and re-test every minute. (I normally find that when I use jam sugar I need to boil rapidly for about 8 minutes to reach the setting point.)

Hot cherry compote after the scum has been removed

8. Once you have reached a setting point, wait 10 minutes, then remove the scum with a spoon and brush the side of the pan with a little water to get rid of any sugar crystals and scum. Finally, when you have removed as much scum as you can, stir in 1-2 grams (¼-½ tsp) of butter to dissolve the remaining scum.

9. Optional: stir in 1½ teaspoons of vanilla paste.

Hot cherry compote being ladled into jars

10. Ladle into hot jars, using a jam funnel if you have one. If using jars with rubber seals, place the lids on immediately. If using wax discs and cellophane, immediately place the wax discs on top of the compote, but wait until the compote is cold before adding the cellophane and rubber bands.


printer copy sb  printer version.pdf

Phone and tablet h32  phone & tablet version.pdf

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