Blueberry Compote + Tips For Stewing Fruit

Blueberry Compote + Tips for Stewing Fruit

I haven’t posted a new recipe in over two months but I have a good reason: it’s tough to blog about food when you’re not eating very much of it. I’ve mainly been subsisting on broth, green juice, soup, dairy-free elixirs, low-fibre smoothies and stewed fruit like this recipe for blueberry compote.

The reason? Another bowel obstruction. A severe one. In July, I went to the local emergency room for what I thought was a typical bowel obstruction. I assumed that the ER would give me some pain meds and fluids for a few hours, then send me home.

Instead, I had a CT scan in the middle of the night and in the morning the surgical staff informed me that my small intestine was 100% blocked and I needed surgery ASAP. Every single obstruction I’ve ever had has passed on its own, but the surgeon said this wasn’t an issue of food getting stuck; it was a buildup of scar tissue that had completely blocked my gut. It wasn’t going to go away without surgical intervention.

When I had surgery in 2003, it was planned months in advance and I was terrified. The thought of another surgery – even if it was warranted – sent me into sheer panic mode. I would do anything to avoid going under the knife again. (I am convinced, however irrationally, that if I have surgery I won’t make it off the table.)

The surgeons wanted to review my CT scan in more detail and track down my latest MRI, which was taken this spring. It showed I had multiple spots with scar tissue and strictures (narrowed bowels), but nothing that required surgery. In fact, the MRI showed a great improvement in inflammation compared to the year before. So how had things deteriorated so quickly?

After a closer look at my scan, the surgeons realized that my bowels were mostly blocked, not entirely blocked. They decided to admit me and monitor the situation. I continued to get better, and later in the day the hospital gastroenterologists arrived and gauged that surgery was likely unnecessary, and suggested they take more x-rays the next morning. Sometimes, they said, images during an acute flare look worse than they actually are.

The x-rays showed that the obstruction had totally resolved on its own.

What a glorious relief.

And then I got shingles.

The stress of the obstruction, combined with my latest drug infusion (which I had the morning of the obstruction), likely caused the shingles to emerge while I was in the hospital (I stayed there for four days). I am fortunate because for me, shingles wasn’t the nightmare I’ve heard it can be. The doctors had started me on a couple of antibiotics in preparation for surgery, and these had some anti-inflammatory effects right away. Don’t get me wrong: the shingles was uncomfortable, but not unbearable.

And so I’ve been spending much of my summer on the couch watching Netflix with the dog. Resting, recuperating and healing. These kinds of flares often require more time to heal emotionally than physically, but in this case I truly needed the physical rest.

Eating has been difficult, not only from a lack of appetite but also due to fear that anything can get stuck at anytime. Hence the soft and liquidy diet.

Blueberries for blueberry compote

Summer is the best season for fruit and I definitely didn’t want to miss out! That’s why I’ve been experimenting with stewing fruit and let me tell you, it’s absolutely delicious.

Here is what I’ve learned during my Summer of Stewing Fruit.

Tips for Stewing Fruit

Berries

  • I haven’t stewed a ton of fruit other than blueberries due to the seeds, but the process is basically the same no matter the berry. Throw your berries in the pot on medium heat, then lower and cover. Cook for 8-10 minutes until soft.
  • The berries will release liquid as they cook, so don’t add too much extra. Stewed fruit will thicken as it cools as well – but if it’s too thin then add some arrowroot, chia or flax.
  • Mash up the fruit, or not.

Small Stone Fruits

  • Blanch the fruit in boiling water for a minute or two. Don’t let them go for too long or they will turn into a mealy mush.
  • Drain and allow them to cool.
  • Slip off the skins and mash, dice or slice.

Large Stone Fruits

  • Cut them in half and remove the pits.
  • Boil for 5-8 minutes, until you see the skin begin to pucker and peel.
  • Drain and allow them to cool.
  • Slip off the skins and mash, dice or slice.

Fall Fruits

  • Dice into small pieces and add to a pot (no need to bother peeling them, unless they aren’t organic). You’ll probably need a few tbsp of water.
  • Simmer over low heat for 8-12 minutes, or until soft.
  • Mash or puree into applesauce (or pear-plesauce?)

How to Flavour Stewed Fruit

Depending on the sweetness of the fruit, you may not need to add any extra natural sweeteners. Most of the time, I don’t add anything. If I need to add sugar, I use coconut sugar so I don’t add more liquid to the mix.

For pizazz, add extra flavours such as:

  • citrus zest (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit)
  • citrus juice
  • ginger slices (remove after cooking)
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • cloves
  • rosemary
  • sea salt
  • peppermint
  • lavender

How to Serve Stewed Fruit

You can eat stewed fruit:

  • On its own
  • With coconut yogurt or other dairy-free yogurt
  • With cashew cream or coconut whipped cream
  • Spread on toast or crackers, just like jam
  • With granola and nut milk
  • Folded into ice cream or popsicles
  • Incorporate it into baked goods
  • As a topping for ice cream or breakfast porridge

I’ve been making this blueberry compote recipe almost every week and it’s versatile and stupidly easy. My fave is to pair it with coconut yogurt and hemp seeds – amazing.

Blueberry Compote
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sugar-free
Author:
Serves: 1¼ cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. Rinse the blueberries and put them in a pot.
  2. Turn the heat to medium and 'saute' the blueberries for a minute. Turn the heat down, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 8-10. Stir occasionally.
  3. Mash the berries gently with a fork or potato masher. Or you can skip this step, depending on your preference.
  4. Taste and add sweetener if necessary.
  5. Let cool and store in the fridge.

 

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