Sour Cherry Compote

Sour Cherry Compote

Sour Cherry Compote: Rides the line between sweet & savory and has so many uses!

One of my summer/fall favorites is this marvelous Sour Cherry Compote. It’s a little sweet, a little tart and goes so well with so many things. I often make up a batch and can or freeze so I have it to pull out in the winter, too.

Sour Cherry Compote

Sour Cherry Compote

This compote seems to have an affinity for anything with lots of pepper or a little spice. I’ll use it over pork chops, chicken or salmon. It’s also great as a little topping for crackers spread with a dab of goat cheese or cream cheese and the tartness goes well with a rich, vanilla ice-cream or a sweet cake as a dessert sauce.

I don’t know about you, but for years I avoided a lot of dishes containing cherries – they often seem overly sweet, even “gloppy.” This recipe is nothing like that – it rides the edge where savory meets sweet, leaning slightly to the sweet side, while still remaining a little tart.

Sour Cherry Compote

Sour Cherry Compote

Dried cranberries make an excellent substitute for the dried sour cherries, especially if they are not sweetened, and are much less expensive than cherries. Cherries, though, are always my first choice.

While this sauce is a bit more tart with sour cherries (which have a very short season and may be hard to find) it’s also excellent with Bings. A few drops of red wine vinegar is great in the dish if you’re using a sweet cherry.

Sour Cherry Compote

Sour Cherry Compote

The brandy, though, really “makes” the recipe. It blends so well with the other ingredients, you’ll hardly know it’s there but it gives a little roundness and depth.

I’ve canned this recipe before very successfully. It’s so nice to have a jar at the ready in my pantry. If you do so, don’t use any of the cornstarch until you’re ready to serve.

Sour Cherry Compote

Sour Cherry Compote

Sour Cherry Compote

  • Servings: abt 3 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup of berry or cherry juice or apple cider (but not apple juice)
  • 1 cup dried tart or sour cherries
  • 1 1/2 pounds of fresh tart cherries or 20 ounces frozen. May use Bing, see note
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Bring cherry or berry juice and dried cherries to a boil in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Remove from heat, cover and let steep 20 minutes.

Bring dried cherry mixture back to a simmer. Add the fresh cherries and sugar, simmer until the cherries begin to soften, about two minutes for fresh, about five if using frozen.

Mix cornstarch and brandy in a small bowl or cup until blended. Add to the cherry mixture, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir until the mixture thickens, about a minute.

Serve warm or chilled.

Note: if unable to use tart cherries, add a few drops of red wine vinegar to taste.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Used:

  • Cherries: While Cherries come into season mid to late summer in my area, they’re always available in the store – they’re just better and cheaper in season. They’re sometimes as low as 99 cents a pound, and like grapes seem to have a sale all their own: our store often sells the 1st pound free. Watch those sales carefully; the first pound may be free, but sometimes the per pound price may so high that you pay more in the long run if you go much over the free pound. By the way, even if prepackaged you’re not required to buy the whole amount so you can work those sales to your advantage. The packages at my store this week with the free pound worked out to 2 1/4 pounds and would have cost about $5.00, which was $2.77 a pound. I opened mine and removed about a third so I had the pound and 1/2 I needed, so paid $1.38 for my total pound and a quarter.
  • Dried Cherries: Stock up during Christmas – and use coupons. If the bag is flimsy, repackage. Dried fruit keeps, literally, indefinitely, although you might find it becoming almost hard. Use the same trick as for brown sugar – keep it overnight, sealed in a bag with a piece of bread. Your pricing will vary according to what you use, cranberries or cherries. Aldi’s sells 4 ounces, about 2 cups for $1.19. Cost 60 cents.
  • Sugar: Look for sugar on sale, which usually happens around the holidays. While any holiday generates a sales price, the best sales are generally from Thanksgiving to Christmas, when coupons are abundant. 1/2 cup is about 4 cents.
  • Berry or Cherry Juice: Either can be a pricey ingredient, especially the cherry juice. If you’d like the cherry juice, consider looking in the baby or health food aisle. For berry juice, try to stick with a natural or no additive 100 percent juice. This is an item that one can often find $1.00 off coupons for, and combined with a sale can be picked up for pennies. Cost 10 cents.
  • Other Ingredients: negligible


Per Serving, servings 10 1/2 cup each: 126 Calories; 0g Fat; 1g Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 4mg Sodium.

Left Overs?

Since this can go well with savory of sweet items, left overs shouldn’t be too much of a problem. I like a dollop in my plain yogurt and this is excellent in or over Over Night Muesli.

Put Your own Spin on It:

  • If you are sauteing chicken or pork in a pan, consider soaking the dried cherries as you are cooking your meal. When the meat is finished, drain excess oil in the pan, saute a finely diced onion, then add the soaked cherries and juice. Proceed as directed.
  • If I change this compote into a pan sauce like this, I generally cut the amounts in half or less – while the recipe made as normal will keep for quite some time in the fridge, if it is combined with the drippings in the pan, for safety reasons, you’ll only want to store it in the fridge for a few days.

Reposted 12/5/16 from an earlier post.


I’m going to be sharing these marvelous rolls this week on our very own Throwback Thursday as well as Saucy Saturdays and Fiesta Friday! Fiesta Friday is hosted this week by ! Linda @ La Petite Paniere and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

23 thoughts on “Sour Cherry Compote

  1. petra08

    I love sour cherries and have never combined them with brandy! I always use a little red wine when cooking them but this sounds delicious! 🙂

    • Hi, I make another compote with wine, but cherries & wine are classic, too. There’s a Cherry Brandy, but the ones I’ve tried have been really sweet and almost cloying…The sour cherries in this are just perfect!

  2. This looks perfect to go with our Christmas ham Moliie! We have good cherries in jars at Trader Joe’s — think they would work?? And on cheesecake… Have you launched into Christmas baking?? We’re having some Christmas events– so yesterday I baked 260 cookies! I’d love to see what you bake at Christmas time… Do you kids have favorites?? take care blog-buddy! xox

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