Food in Russia: what's hot in a cold country
In most of the countries, “compote” means a dessert made with fruit, but in post-Soviet countries compote is a drink. To make it even more confusing, there is another type of drink cold “mors” and I’m still not sure I understand the difference between these too. Are you supposed to squeeze juice first for mors? Should you only use berries? Or drink it cold and cold only? (whereas compote is good no matter the temperature)
But that doesn’t really matter, as today I present you this famous beverage. It’s good, healthy and oh so easy to make.
So, why Farm and Forest? Let me ask you this: why Surf & Turf? Because one part of it comes from land and another one from sea. Same thing here. I took black currant (typically grows in dacha’s gardens) and lingonberry (grows in forests), but you can take basically any fresh, frozen or dry fruit you have. There are some time-tested components and their combinations, typical for Soviet and post-Soviet compote/mors makers (not surprisingly, these are fruits and berries growing here):
Other than this, you’ll only need water and sugar.
Typically, you don’t put any spices in it – just pure fruit (or berry) flavor. Plus, most of Russian food isn’t spicy. If you must, add some cinnamon OR gloves to your apple compote, but that’s it.
The amounts I used: 1l water, 250-300g of mixed frozen berries (lingonberries and black currants), 100g sugar. Feel free to change the ratio and use whatever fruit or berries you have. You can use less sugar or even skip it altogether and add it straight to your cup (although traditionally sugar is added to the pot). That’s 4-5 servings.
Preparation is easy, just like I promised: add sugar to the water, close the lid, let it simmer, add berries, let it simmer again, cook for 5 min, done. Okay, if you use fresh fruit, you have to chop them and cook the compote longer, probably 20 min or so. But with juicy berries, there is no need to cook it for a long time. With dried fruit… Oh, this is another story, I’ll show you how to do it one day.
Your compote is ready to drink, hot, cold or lukewarm. No need to strain them berries – these are the best part.
This compote can also be the way of saving fruit and berries for the winter. In this case, people usually use less water (so the water doesn’t take much of the precious space) and more sugar (a natural preservative) and also sterilize the jars. You’ll get more concentrated drink that way so you’ll need to add some water. As you may know, Russians take great pride in their winter preserves. Sometimes they get creative and let their personality shine through those jars of canned fruit and pickles.
UPD: I was wrong – it wasn’t black currants I used for this recipe, it was blueberries. So it’s not really Farm & Forest – what a waste of a perfectly good name. But I can still call it Red & Blue, I guess.