The Tudor Society

Pears in Compote – Tudor Cooking with Claire

For today's Tudor Cooking with Claire video, I'm making a recipe dating back to the 15th century called Pears in Compote, or, as it's written in the manuscript, Pears in Compost!

The original recipe can be found in Two fifteenth-century cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55 edited by Thomas Austin, page 12, which can be read online at It's a brilliant primary source.

The recipe I'm using is based on the modernised recipe from the Gode Cookery website, but I've used a cinnamon stick rather than ground cinnamon, and I've also used quince like in the original recipe.

2 cups of red wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon of white sugar
1/2 cup of sliced dates
4-6 pears (I used 5 pears and 1 quince)
A pinch of salt

Peel and core the fruit. Slice thinly. Boil in a saucepan in their own juices until tender but not overly soft.
While the fruit is cooking, heat the wine with the cinnamon stick and sugar.
When the fruit is ready, remove the cinnamon stick from wine mixture and combine the wine and fruit.
Add the dates and salt.
Bring to the boil and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Remove from the heat and cool slightly before serving.


There are 3 comments Go To Comment

  1. D

    Sounds a very ‘Earthy’ dish claire ha-ha.
    I have made something similar from Delia Smith Christmas, she pickled them, and they are delish…bet these are too, and very seasonal.

    1. C - Post Author

      I was talking to my dad, who used to be a French teacher, about the word compote and how it was “compost” in the original manuscript and he told me that the circumflex in the original French spelling “cômpote”, before France got rid of the circumflex, was used to replace the “s” in words, so it would have been “compost” in French. Interesting!

  2. D

    Will definitely be giving this recipe ago. I bet using the compote instead of stewed apples under the sponge of an Eve’s pud would work too.

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Pears in Compote – Tudor Cooking with Claire