Stefan’s Compote

One of the Polish Christmas Eve traditions is Compote – as the Polish climate is extreme, fresh fruits would not traditionally have been available in midwinter.  In fact, various different compotes made from fresh or preserved fruits are consumed all the year round.

This one, using prunes and figs, goes back to the middle ages and echoes the cuisine of the Holy Land and is a Christmas favourite.  It is simplicity itself to make.


  • 10 ounces of stoned prunes (My personal favourites are those lovely prunes d’Agen from the South of France)
  • 10 oz dried figs
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One fresh lemon
  • One cup of black tea
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar


Rinse both types of fruit then leave to stand separately overnight in the black tea, with just enough water added to cover the fruit.

In the morning add one tablespoon full of sugar and one cinnamon stick to the prunes; bring them to the boil and leave to stand.

The figs however will  need longer – boil them gently for five minutes with another tablespoon of sugar, the juice of one lemon, and a piece of thinly sliced lemon rind.

Combine the fruit together and allow to stand and cool. If it’s Christmas Eve…  Wait for the first star…

Stefan Cembrowicz

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