Our recent post about sour cherries drew a comment from our frequent contributor Ara, who noted that he’d made his own sour cherry preserves. That got me thinking: It’s been too long since I cooked with fruit.
We happened to have a generous supply of dried apricots, figs and prunes on hand – all traditional Armenian favorites – so I tossed them all in a pot, added just enough water to cover and turned up the heat.
The result was a treat I remember as anything but. Stewed, dried fruit falls into the fairly large category of foods I remember seeing the old folks eat when I was too young to appreciate anything that wasn’t coated in chocolate.
The much older me has come to appreciate fruit of all sorts, more so now that I’m trying hard to steer clear of cakes, ice cream and most other desserts in order to avoid being unable to squeeze through the kitchen door.
Yes, I’m aware that dried fruit is on the outs in some healthy-eating circle because of its concentration of sugar, but it’s also loaded with fiber and other good stuff. I figure it has to be better for me than eating a doughnut, if only because it isn’t fried.
I do like sweets but not if they’re too sweet, so I don’t add sugar to my stewed fruit. You certainly can. And following Ara’s excellent recommendation regarding the cherries, a little Armenian brandy certainly can’t hurt.
But I chose the simplest preparation: just fruit. It only takes about 15 minutes and can be served cold, warm, or hot, but I definitely recommend spooning it over plain madzoon.
Armenian Stewed Dried Fruit
Two cups dried apricots, figs and prunes mixed together. (You can use any combination of fruits you like.)
¼ cup sugar (optional)
1. Cut larger pieces of fruit into bite-size pieces, trimming and removing any stems.
2. Place fruit in a sauce pan and add enough water to cover.
3. Add sugar and stir it in now if you like an extra sweet, thick syrup.
4. Bring to boil, then reduce to a low boil and cover. Stir and check occasionally.
5. Reduce liquid to about a third of original level, then refill.
6. Let the liquid reduce again and cook until the fruit is soft. Add more water if you want more juice.Remove from heat.
Serve hot, warm or cold as you like.