Berry and Spice Compote, an elegant option for fruit just past its prime. Photo for The Washington Post by Renee Comet.
It might be winter right now but there's nothing better than a rip berry. Supermarkets freeze their berries and once we take it home there is a short lifespan for your berry.

At overripe a berry can still taste as good or even better, though, which is why industrious cooks get out their pie plates and jam pots and simmer for hours.

Here's a quick alternative: Make a compote. Three other ingredients and low heat will help most of the fruit keep its shape while its juices form a rich-looking, barely sweet sauce you can spoon over just about anything.

Who knew warming spices could make such a cool dish? This compote can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Recipe: Berry and spice compote

4 to 8 servings - makes about 1½ cups

Serve with a whipped cream-Greek yogurt mixture and/or granola.

Ingredients
  • 450 g mixed fresh berries, such as raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, stemmed and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • One 2,5 cm cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole star anise
Method
  1. Combine the berries, dark brown sugar, cinnamon stick and star anise in a heavy pot over low heat. 
  2. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the fruit has started to break down but still retains some shape. 
  3. You don't want something that looks like jam.
  4. Discard the cinnamon stick and star anise.
  5. Serve chilled
This recipe was adapted from The Ginger & White Cookbook by Tonia George, Emma Scott and Nicholas Scott.