Judith Hausman
August 14, 2013

poached fruit


Photo by Judith Hausman

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Poaching fruit holds the flavor and color for more than a week.

Oh my, local apricots and local cherries! In New York’s Hudson Valley, where I live, you can miss their season in the blink of an eye. On the one Saturday you see them at the farmers market, you must buy them, no matter what you have planned. You can gobble them down right away, of course, but a wonderful way to prolong the enjoyment a bit is to cook them gently in a simple-sugar syrup. 

The light sugaring holds their flavor and color nicely for more than a week. I’ve used red or white wine in the past, but this year I decided to only add the brightening flavor of a little citrus zest to the poaching liquid. As alternatives, herbs, such as basil, mint, lemon verbena or lavender, are lovely with poached fruits, and the compote can be spiked post-facto with cognac or liqueur, as I’ve done here with apricots.

Try to find the moment the fruit is cooked just through but still firm; this will vary with the size and type you stumble upon. Peaches poach beautifully, too, as do pears later in the season.

As for serving the fruit, it seems obvious: ice cream or crème fraîche on top with butter pound cake, shortcake or shortbread cookies underneath.

Note: If using cherries instead of apricots, use lemon zest instead of lime and substitute amaretto or cognac for the orange liqueur.


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • zest of half a lime
  • 1 pound fresh apricots (or other fruit), halved and stones removed 
  • 1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur


Bring the water and sugar to a gentle boil without stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Lower to a simmer, add the apricot halves and poach about 5 minutes. Cool briefly, and then stir in the liqueur. Chill and serve.


You might also enjoy these Locavore Recipes:

Plum Pastry

Peach Corn Salsa

Read more of Locavore Recipes »

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