Rosewater Plum Compote Recipe

A stunning jewel-colored rosewater plum compote. It can make ordinary french toast, waffles, pancakes, and crepes, and vanilla ice cream extra special.

Rosewater Plum Compote

It's plum season. I can see it coming and going from my back porch. Just over our backyard fence in a neighbor's otherwise barren backyard are three huge plum trees. I can see deep maroon orbs clinging to the top branches where the sunlight is generous. If I turn my glance to some of the inner branches the plums range in color from green to a vibrant ruby-purple depending on ripeness. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of plums, and every one of them will end up in the dirt beneath those trees by the end of the season. There is a pit bull who lounges in the shade at their base guarding the bounty, or I'd almost certainly consider loosening a board or two in the fence to squeeze through and harvest them myself.

The first year we lived here, three or four years back, a few of the plum tree branches crossed over into our yard - Wayne and our friend (and downstairs neighbor) Quyen used a ladder to reap a basketful of plums. Unfortunately, an overzealous gardner cropped those branches back that year, and we can no longer reach the nearest tree. I suppose I could walk over and knock on the door of this house, but I've never seen a person in that back yard, I don't have any idea who lives there, and to be honest I'm a bit intimidated.

So instead of doing anything useful, round about this time every year as I run into friends and neighbors out in front of the house, I ask them to dream up ways to get at the plums. So far no luck with those trees, but the good news is that my other neighbor Kitty brought me a huge bag of deliciously ripe plums courtesy of HER friend with a tree! They are sweet and tart at the same time and in certain fruits the flesh graduates from a rich yellow-orange to a deep blood-range color all in once slice.

So, the dilemma. What to do with all those plums? I decided on a compote. It was late at night when I started, and I wanted something that would come together quickly. I wasn't up for the whole canning and sterilizing thin at that hour. This compote is not overly sweet, and the kiss of sweetness plays nicely with the bit of tartness I mentioned. I couldn't help but think a splash of rose water would mingle beautifully in this compote and lend a subtle floral nose to the compote, so I added that as well.

plum compote recipe

It is the kind of thing that will make ordinary french toast, waffles, pancakes, and crepes just a little more special. It would make a wonderful vanilla ice cream topping. Wayne threw it on an almond butter sandwich for lunch. You might want to "can" it as you would other preserves, but I made this batch to enjoy fresh. You might also try a version with a bit of pectin for more of a jam texture. Or a puree might be nice as well....

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Rosewater Plum Compote Recipe

I believe the plums I received were Santa Rosa. Feel free to cut this recipe in half if you don't have access to the bounty of a neighborhood plum tree. Rose Water can be found in many ethnic and Middle Eastern markets. Don't worry if you can't locate it, the compote will be delicious without it as well.

5 pounds plums
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pound sugar (I used fine-grain organic cane sugar)
3 tablespoons rose water

Have a big bowl ready. Pit and chop the plums into small 1/2-inch pieces. As you chop place the chopped plums in the bowl and toss with a drizzle of the lemon juice every once in a while. When all the plums have been chopped gently toss them with any remaining lemon juice and the sugar. Stir in the rose water. If you have some time to spare, let the mixture sit for twenty minutes or so.

In your largest, widest, thickest-bottomed pot bring the plum mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir regularly scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure the fruit doesn't burn. Adjust the heat if needed and cook at a lazy boil for about 20-25 minutes, skimming off any foam that develops on top. Be mindful of the texture of the fruit, you don't want to overcook (or over stir) the fruit to the point that it breaks down and goes to mush.

Remove from heat and spoon the compote into individual jars. Refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for about a week like this.

Makes about eight 1/2-pint jars of compote.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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This year's abundance on my plum tree was answered by your wonderful recipe. My whole freezer is now filled with this delightfully tart sauce. It's fabulous over plain, greek-style yogurt, or as a sauce over ice cream. Or on a spoon.


You need to knock on the door and ask about the plums. Only connect. And maybe you can get another column out of it. Life is so much better when you're not afraid. And when it comes to something this small: no excuse.


Add a couple of teaspoons of rosewater to a compote of prunes, apricots, and figs. Add some pine kernels, almonds and walnuts - stunning!


Heidi, I've been doing this for years in the plum season, much to friends' and family's delight (they think this is so exotic!). I combine peaches and plums - turns out great. For decadent moments, try a generous layer of whipped cream on warm scones and top with a tablespoon of the plum-peach compote ...mmm, heaven.

Anila Soni

Heidi, I've been doing this for years in the plum season, much to friends' and family's delight (they think this is so exotic!). I combine peaches and plums - turns out great. For decadent moments, try a generous layer of whipped cream on warm scones and top with a tablespoon of the plum-peach compote ...mmm, heaven.

Anila Soni

É deliciosa! Obrigada. Maria


Hi Heidi...just wanted to say that this was amazing. I ended up not cooking half of it because it tasted so good fresh too. Also, if you're looking to try another combination..I just did the rosewater and sugar thing with a bunch of blueberries I bought at the farmer's market. I added a little cardamon to some oat pancakes and had the rosewater blueberry compote on top....yum! Thanks for your inspiration!


Hi Heidi, this recipe sounds delish! I know it is something my mom and I could both enjoy, with one exception. My mom was recently diagnosed with diabetes, so the sugar content in this recipe makes me think twice. Also, I don't use that much sugar myself, I tend to use agave or honey when I can get away with it. Mom and I have been trying to rework some recipes with alternative sweeteners; do you think honey or agave would work in this recipe? Or is there something about the cane sugar that simply can't be subsituted? Thanks!


James, there is a garlic bread recipe I shared a while back - my dad's. Use the search box in the upper left corner to find it. Lillianne, what an amazing story. So sad to lose trees like that. Jennifer, sounds like its time to either start canning or freezing! Thanks to everyone else for the nice comments and encouragement. I'll let you know how it goes.


Heidi~ I second (sixth?) the motion that you knock on that neighbor's door, but with the added suggestion that you offer treats for the humans (cookies, muffins, whatever) as well as a tidbit for the dog. These offerings will demonstrate general goodwill as well as a desire (from the outset!) to exchange a favor for a favor. If your neighbors say "no," nothing lost; if they say "yes" consider coming by with a little compote as a "thank you" afterwards... Who knows? Along with a few plums, you might make a few friends... All the best to you and your delightful blog!


I enjoy your recipes. I do a lot of Italian cuisine, but have just one problem and that is a simple italian garlic bread recipe. Can you offer any suggestions


I have to agree with other posters... I'd try knocking and asking to pick them. I know that we've let people onto our property to take away the pears and felt relieved that they asked to do so...


My elderly neighbor tended to a backyard full of fig trees. She would pay a man to come cover the trees with bedsheets in the summer when the birds would start pecking at them. She made every fig recipe she ever found. When she passed away the new owner came in and cleared all the trees without even asking what they were so that her mini dachs would have a big play yard. I could just hear Vernice weeping from above.


My mother-in-law is Persian and I made for her a similar compote. The only differance being that instead of plums I used RHUBARB and added a VANILLA BEAN during the cooking and cooling process. She and her friends really enjoyed the compote. Thank you Heidi for another wonderfull recipe.


One more thing. ;) Jennifer and's an awesome recipe for Nectarine-Plum tart. You could probably easily substitute peaches. The recipe is for 6 little tarts, but I make it as one normal-sized one, and just adjust the cooking time. Enjoy!


One more thing. ;) Jennifer and's an awesome recipe for Nectarine-Plum tart. You could probably easily substitute peaches. The recipe is for 6 little tarts, but I make it as one normal-sized one, and just adjust the cooking time. Enjoy!


I just wanted to tell you how much I look forward to your new posts...the recipes all sound SO delicious, and the pictures are beautiful! I can't wait to see your cookbook...unfortunately, though, my husband and I are stationed in Guam, and I can't find anyone who will ship it out here. When we return to a stateside base, though, it's the first thing on my "to buy" list. Thanks again for the gorgeous blog!


You know, I just got some rose geranium at the farmer's market. I wonder how it would do added to the compote? I've been trying to figure out what to do with it.


You should go knock on their door! The worst that could happen is they tell you no and go away.


This post made me laugh. My (grumpy) neighbour has a plum tree and two beautiful apple trees which bear the most incredible fruit. After watching them go to waste last year I have decided to do some midnight plundering this year! Guilt free. :)


Go knock for those plums! Maybe it is an elderly person who would love the company and some fresh jam. And make sure you bring a treat for that dog... The worst thing they can do is get annoyed and start throwing the plums in your yard!


Go knock for those plums! Maybe it is an elderly person who would love the company and some fresh jam. And make sure you bring a treat for that dog...


Wow...this looks delicious and your photography is beautiful!


This entry just got my taste buds going.It reminds me of when my grandma lived in a house with many plum trees and greengages too. It makes me nostalgic for England.I cant get greengages here. Still I have market tomorrow, here in Athens Greece, and will search out plums and get cooking. Thank you for your inspiration.

Heidi A-P

I wouldn't let the plums in your neighbors yard go to waste! Take a crate and a $20.00 bill- Knock on the door and ask if you could pick their plums and say you would be more than happy to give them say $10.00 a crate? As the saying goes... Money Talks! Who could refuse a twenty spot???


Hi Heidi, Well would you believe we are moving into a house with a Santa Rosa and a yellow plum tree! It has thousands of jucy sugar laden plums. Please come to Marin and help me save them from a liquid-y splat of a death on my driveway! But really I have 15 pounds picked and I am stuck. I want to can them as jam but I am mentally stuck? Maybe adding another flavor it the way to get inspired, thanks.


Sorry, but type SHRIMP in your iPhone application. What is APPLE PIE doing in this list? The pie recipe and the Pad Thai recipe are the only ones with actual recipes behind them. You need a lot more work before this is a useful app.


yummy! i like plum season 2~

YOYO's Food

Oh my god, doesn't it drive you bats to see all the fruit going to waste in CA and not be able to pick it yourself? Lemons oranges apricots plums and figs! The best apricots I ever had came a couple weeks ago from some wild trees on the side of the highway in Saratoga. I am glad you got your hands on some plums; they sound awesome.


rosewater .. what a lovely touch! great pics as always :). Took me back to last year when i ended up with two huge trays of some 35 delicious peaches and not knowing what to do after the endless peach smoothies and crumbles. Turned them into "peach and lemon" jam and dropped off a bottle each with all my friends :) .. some amateurish pics here ..


Oh, go ask the neighbor. I have a neighbor who has a meyer lemon tree in her front yard who let all the lemons fall on the ground. I am determined I am going to ask her for some lemons this fall. What do you and I both have to lose? Go for it.


I've tried my hand at canning and a good resource for a beginner, is Canning and Preserving for Dummies :-) It's come in handy. I don't think you need to add more sugar, but a sprinkle of pectin OR adding a complementary fruit that is higher in pectin would do the trick. What I typically do to can up my extra fruit is to boil the empty jars, covered with 1 in water, for 10 minutes. Also boil the lids and the lid flaps (the disks with a bit of adhesive on them) for 10 minutes. Make sure you stick your carrying utensil in boiling water for 10 minutes before touching the glass and lid pieces. You can then ladle your compote or jam into the jars or use a wide-mouth funnel (pretty cheap and useful) to help your aim. Since all your canning stuff has been sterilized, try to to touch the jars at all with unsterilized stuff, like your fingers. Have a clean cloth handy to wipe away any drips on the outside of the jar. Make sure you don't fill the jars too full. Leave about a half inch space. Close up the jars, but not super tight, just firmly shut. Put your filled and closed jars back in the large pot of boiling water (carefully) and boil for 10 more minutes. Some air will bubble out of the jars. Then take the jars out to cool. You should hear/see the pop as the lids are sucked on tight. After they cool completely, put 'em up in a pantry or such. Weeks later, before you open a jar, look to see if there are lots of air bubbles have developed in the jar or if the color has changed. Ew, throw these out. I've canned jams and fruit compote for about five years with the above process and haven't had one go bad yet.


Oooh, what a pretty compote! Looks fantastic!


Goodness, Heidi, I just adore your photography! Wow do I have a craving for plums now...


I love plums, I usually just eat them fresh but I'll save this recipe because it sounds delicious.


Mmmmmm...looks delicious! Thank you for the inspiration...Working as a Private chef in New York, i'm always looking for fresh ideas... Big Bossman is going to like that!...if i get a raise because of it...i'll share with you!!...euhhh second thought...i'll share with you after i send my kids to college!


Knock on the door! You have nothing to lose, and only plums AND an neighbor to gain.


...And what if we did want to can this delectable little slice of summer for some enjoyment when the northern california blahs set in? Does anyone have a good internet resource/book recommendation for the "how-to" on canning? P.S.- Heidi, i bought two copies of your book on my trip to Portland last week- one as a birthday gift for my mom and one as a "thank you" present to my neighbor since she gave my sick little bunny his medication every day. it was a much-appreciated gift and i'll be picking up my own copy from Amazon on my next paycheck. thank you for your book and the blog... keep it coming!!


What a splendid treatment for keeping the feeling of freshness without the fear of fermentation. Love it!


Heidi, I agree with Terry, although I think you should take a friend with you. Don't forget to bring a treat for the dog...

mollie bryan

Heidi, Your plum compote sounds yummy. Don't be so "city bound" just go next door and knock.....when a person appears at the door introduce yourself as a neighbor and ask if you can pick a few plums. Offer some compote in return.....wasting plums isn't acceptable. Terry


I did the same thing last summer, only using cardamom pods (later removed) for the extra something, and using part brown sugar. Over vanilla bean ice cream. Damn.


I actually added the rosewater before the boil this time. It still left a nice impression. I could see adding it after though as well. If I did it after the boil I would add a bit at a time until it was to my liking - like a seasoning. Good luck! -h


i really think that trhis food is very delicous and very tasty.hmmmm!!!


It's not the plum season yet but I just can't wait when I see your compote. When I see plums, the first thing that comes to my mind is where I was little, my aunt used to have a plum tree in her house, the sweetest plums I have ever had. One day her son took a plum and thought it will add some color to my little white and blue sailor dress. It certainely did. I couldn't stop cruying.


the photos are fantastic! and I can imagine the taste - plums and rosewater - gorgeous!


This looks delish, we're just getting our first good plums on this side of the Atlantic, and it would be nice to have something homemade to spread on anything and everything.


How fantastic - I have both a plum tree laden with plums and a bottle of rosewater, the latter of which I have been a little bit stuck for nice ideas to use up :-) We usually make a big batch of Delia Smith's Spiced Damson Chutney (great made with either damsons or plums), but this would make a welcome change! I'm not a great preserving expert - does anybody know if it should be possible to make a version that will keep in a jar for a while but without adding a load more sugar?


Oh delicious. I have the same question as the above Ganga. I'd guess at the end so that it doesn't evaporate while enjoying its "lazy boil"?


Yum. It looks and sounds delicious. But when do I add the rosewater?


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