Not sure what to make with rhubarb? Make this healthy rhubarb compote! It’s much lower in sugar than jam, freezes well and is perfect for a vegan breakfast or spooned on ice cream. I also have a delicious trick to make green rhubarb red while cooking the syrup.
Compote is like a fruit purée and quite thin like a sauce. It’s a way to preserve fruit by cooking it in syrup.
Fruit compote goes back to medieval Europe when a mix of puréed fruits was both healthy and cheap to make.
Today, I feel that the humble compote is so underrated: it’s low in sugar, a fruity accompaniment to loads of desserts and it’s a healthy (and vegan) way to start the day, spooned on morning cereal or yoghurt. In this recipe I use a quarter of sugar to the weight of rhubarb.
Is Green Rhubarb as Good as Red?
Ever wondered why your rhubarb stalks are green and not red? Funnily enough, there’s no flavour difference between green or red but somehow the blushing red colour of rhubarb looks more appetising and less sour.
I’m always excited during French rhubarb season and love making rhubarb compote. It reminds me of all the lovely pink rhubarb we had in Scotland (ever since I was little until I left when I was 22), especially when it found its way into comforting fruit crumbles with a cheeky hint of stem ginger. We had the forced, lovely pink rhubarb in winter, followed by the still pinkish rhubarb in Spring to Summer.
However, in France we have to wait until rhubarb season between April and June. I’m always a bit disappointed; somehow the rhubarb we find in Parisian markets is always so GREEN!
How to Cook Green Rhubarb
My answer to make green rhubarb look more red in making compote? While cooking green rhubarb, infuse hibiscus tea or Carcadet into the rhubarb syrup.
First obtain a syrup – so macerate the rhubarb chunks in sugar for 2-3 hours (or overnight). Then sieve the natural syrup from the rhubarb, reduce the syrup while infusing with the hibiscus then cook the rhubarb in the reduced syrup for 15 minutes.
Either use dried hibiscus flowers or hibiscus teabag infusions and add while reducing the syrup then add the rhubarb chunks and cook . Teabags come in so many choices these days – many in the form of detox infusions, usually with the addition of rose or rosehip and berries. It’s a perfect flavour match with rhubarb!
How Long Will Rhubarb Compote Keep?
It can keep well in the fridge, sealed in jam jars, for up to 10 days. Otherwise compote freezes well too.
Freezing compote is perfect for that luxury winter moment when you need a dose of rhubarb or berries with that extra touch of hibiscus and rose.
How to Use Rhubarb Compote
We love rhubarb compote served chilled – from breakfast, to teatime, to desserts.
Either enjoy on its own chilled or dollop on top of vanilla ice cream. However, it’s so useful served with cakes and also delicious with rice pudding. Use it as a base for strawberry tarts too.
Here are some ideas how best to serve your compote:
- Dolloped on this homemade maple syrup granola for a healthy, vegan start to the day;
- With these creamy, vegan almond rice puddings for either breakfast or dessert;
- As a side to this moist, lemon and almond cake (gluten free too);
- With chilled French Semolina Cake (gâteau de semoule);
- On its own with crispy French tuiles on the side;
- Dribbled over creamy lemon verbena ice cream; and
- Served as a base for these mini rhubarb, strawberry and oat crumble with white chocolate and rose mousse.
Spiced Rhubarb Compote
Not fancy making the compote with the tea? Then it’s even easier! Forget the hibiscus/red fruit tea and add some candied ginger to the compote – the spiced ginger combination is so fabulous. It reminds me of when I grew up in Scotland, when we often paired ginger with rhubarb.
The beauty with compote is that it’s versatile and vegan, too.
Enjoy the same recipe using summer berries. It’s a great, healthy alternative to rhubarb jam (jam needs more sugar) using just a quarter ratio of sugar to fruit.
Rhubarb Compote with Fruity Hibiscus Tea
Rhubarb Compote with Hibiscus Tea
- 400 g (14oz) Rhubarb about 4 medium sticks
- 100 g (3.5oz) Sugar (sugar ratio is 1/4 to rhubarb weight)
- 1 tbsp dried hibiscus flowers (Carcardet) or 2 hibiscus teabags
- strawberries (optional)
- Wash and cut the rhubarb at both ends and discard the inedible leaves (these are toxic). Weigh your rhubarb in order to calculate how much sugar to use: the ratio is a quarter of sugar to fruit.
- Cut into chunks about 3cm and place in a bowl with the sugar. Leave to stand for 2-3 hours (or overnight).
- Sieve off the rhubarb juices into a saucepan. Add the hibiscus/red fruit tea and bring to the boil. Reduce the liquid slightly for no more than 10 minutes. Remove the tea then add the rhubarb.
- Bring to the boil, then simmer over a gentle heat for about 15 minutes until the fruit is soft and collapses into a purée. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Refrigerate until needed.
A ginger version of this rhubarb hibiscus compote recipe was first published on 27 April 2016. Recipe now completely updated to make it versatile with other summer fruits such as berry compote. A printable recipe card and video are also added.