We eat pancakes or waffles almost every Sunday, but I haven’t bought pancake syrup in more than 10 years. Instead we top our pancakes with homemade jam and whipped cream or butter and honey, but our favorite by far is ricotta cheese and fruit compote. Compotes are cooked fruits in thick syrup. Sometimes they’re spiced, sometimes not. Compotes are an excellent way to use up seasonal fruits that are on the verge of getting over-ripe. I like making batches of compote with seasonal fruits all through the year and then freezing them in single-meal amounts or water-bath canning them if I have time. Compotes can be used to top pancakes, waffles, ice cream, simple cake, biscuits, and my favorite- panna cotta.
All of you locals should already be familiar with loquats. Look around, they’re everywhere. The trees are common all over Florida and often fruit twice a year. They often fruit heavily and the fruit is easy to collect. They are a little fussy to prepare (which is why they haven’t gained much popularity) but they taste like slightly tart apricots and work beautifully with strawberries. Since strawberries are just arriving at our local farmers markets, this is an excellent combination to take advantage of these fruits.
Strawberry Loquat Compote
2 pints fresh strawberries
1 pint fresh loquats
scant 1/3 cup blonde organic Florida sugar
pinch of salt
Wash the fruit carefully. Top and slice the strawberries thickly and put them in a sauce pan. Remove the stems of the loquats. Slice around the flesh of each loquat, lengthwise, pop them open, and pull out the hard seeds and the tough seed covering. Then slice the remaining flesh and add to the strawberries. Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit. Turn the heat on medium until the fruit starts to simmer. Turn the heat to medium low and simmer covered until the fruit is cooked and lots of juices have been released. Stir in a pinch of salt and then either serve immediately or refrigerate.