Apple, Pear & Damson/Grape Fruit Compote

On a sesshin held in Poland a long time ago, Joanna, who was Tenzo, served buckwheat alongside grated apples and sliced damsons for breakfast. It was a lovely combination. The sesshin was held in early September and both damsons and apples were in season. However, April in Holland is too early for damsons, so I used grapes instead for this recipe. When damsons start to come in from the garden, will remember to give them a whirl.

Lemon and a pinch of salt are great in keeping the brightness of fruit prone to browning. In fact, the salt trick was something I picked up in Japan on our first trip – simply slice fruit and rinse it through some lightly salted water. Besides preventing oxidation, it also helps brings out the sweetness of the fruit. If you find it too salty, or too strange, then omit and just use lemon juice.


2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch of sea salt
2 medium apples
2 firm conference pears
250 g (1½ cups prepared)  damsons, or grapes


  • Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt.
  • Using a coarse grater (the type that grates into straw-style pieces), grate the apples and pears. Immediately combine with the lemon and salt to halt oxidation.
  • Remove the pits from the damsons and slice lengthwise into quarters. If using grapes, slice lengthwise into halves.
  • Combine with the apples and pears.
  • Serve with Greek yogurt and honey.

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