The world of fruit and vegetable compotes is quite varied and full of both traditional and innovative recipes.
Compotes can be divided into the following categories:
- Marmalades (marmellata in Italian) are made with cooked citrus conserved in sugar, like bitter orange, lemon, mandarin, blood orange, grapefruit, and “chinotto”.
- Jams (confettura in Italian) are made like marmalades, but using all other types of fruit. For example, pear and balsamic vinegar, figs, strawberries, cherries and apricots.
- Jellies (gelatina in Italian) are fluid, transparent conserves, with more delicate flavors than jams. They are made with fruit juice concentrate, sugar and lemon. Chiani jelly is made with Sangiovese grapes, for example.
In Italy, compotes are made with both fruit and vegetables, like peppers, onions and tomatoes. The quality of the compote increases with the larger the percentage of fresh fruit or vegetables used: the minimum is 45%, those labeled “extra” have over 60% and the most traditional have almost 100%.
Another factor that determines the quality of the compote is the freshness and ripeness of the fresh fruit used – best if it is organic. Traditional compotes are often made with local varieties of fruit that have been around for a long time, like Annurca apple, quince and dog rose.
The presence of natural pectin, preferably not added, and the quality of the sugar, preferably cane sugar, are other important factors that can affect quality.
Fruit and vegetables can be made into compotes using the pulp, pieces or slices. Many delicious compotes contain more than one fruit or vegetable.