Kompot is a specialty that is originally from Eastern Europe. This traditional fruit drink is halfway between a fruit juice and flavored water.
What is kompot?
Kompot, from Russian компот, is a traditional cold non-alcoholic drink consumed in Russia and Eastern Europe. It is made from a mixture of fruit and sugar (white or brown), which cooks and infuses in boiling water.
Kompot is often made with berries, such as blackberries, cherries, raspberries, and strawberries. But almost any combination of fruits is allowed and also works wonderfully: apples, plums, apricots, pears, currants, peaches, grapes, rhubarbs. There are many variations and there is not necessarily one kompot that is more authentic than another.
Similarly, if the culinary habits mean that it is generally prepared with fresh seasonal fruits, it is quite possible to use frozen, syrup or dried fruits. It is also possible to add various spices such as vanilla and cinnamon and replace the sugar with honey or any other vegetable syrup.
What is the origin of kompot?
Kompot literally translates to “compote”, although the drink is quite far from a fruit purée. The name comes from the original meaning of compote, which meant whole or sliced poached fruit in syrup before being consumed as a salad.
Kompot comes from Russia and more generally from Eastern Europe. It is consumed a lot in Poland, Armenia, as well as in the Balkans. According to some cookbooks of the time, the first appearance of the drink dates from the 15th century.
In Russia, kompot was originally a technique for preserving fruits. Thanks to the high concentration of sugar in the water, they could be kept almost intact for long weeks. This allowed Russian families to taste it even during the winter, which is very harsh in this part of the world.
Today, kompot is found in most local supermarkets in the form of large plastic bottles. Even if it is less widespread than at one time, kompot remains one of the typical and most preferred drinks for Russians, along with kvass, a sparkling drink made from dark bread.
Variants of kompot in Eastern Europe
Depending on the fruit that is infused, kompot may take different names.
Uzvar is for example a variant consumed in Russia but also in Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine. Traditionally, Uzvar is a party and celebration drink, which is made on Christmas Eve. What sets Uzvar apart from kompot is actually the use of dried fruits, often prunes or apples, as well as honey instead of sugar.
Mors is made from various berries (cranberries, blueberries, other red berries) to which strawberries or raspberries are sometimes added. When cooked in boiling water, the fruit often ends up crushed, which explains its slightly thicker consistency than kompot. Russians sometimes like to drink the mors with a drop of vodka.
Finally, a kompot in which aromatic herbs and a little wine are added, is called vzvar.
How to make kompot
There are as many ways to prepare kompot as there are different recipes, but the basic process remains more or less the same.
This consists of heating the water and sugar until it boils, before adding the fruit and simmering gently. The secret is to adjust the cooking time and the amount of sugar to the types of fruit used.
For the dried fruit uzvar, it is recommended to soak the fruits overnight in water, then let the preparation steep for several hours. This will give the fruits time to properly flavor the water.
Do not neglect the rest time in the refrigerator: kompot is drunk very fresh, leaving the fruit inside the glass.
- 10 oz. mixed berries (frozen fruits possible)
- ½ cup cane sugar (or white sugar)
- 1 lemon
- 8 cups water
- Place the fruits in a saucepan, add half the sugar and the lemon juice, then let macerate for 30 minutes.
- Boil the water and the rest of the sugar for 3 minutes from the time it starts boiling, then add the fruits and mix.
- Bring to a boil again then lower the heat and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat.
- Cover and let cool completely.
- Bottle with the fruits, and store in the refrigerator for a day or two.
- Serve chilled.