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Stewed Winter Fruits in Spiced Wine Syrup

"There's almost a Dickensian quality to these stewed fruits," says Valerie Gordon. The recipe makes a large amount, but leftovers hold up beautifully and are great served over ice cream or plain cake.


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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: Makes 8 cups

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  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 cup ruby port
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 20 black peppercorns tied in cheesecloth
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 quince—peeled, cored and cut into eighths
  • 4 slices of candied orange or 1/4 cup candied orange rind
  • 8 plump dried pear halves (6 ounces)
  • 10 plump dried Black Mission figs, stemmed
  • 1/2 cup plump dried apricots (3 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup plump pitted prunes (3 ounces)


  1. In a large saucepan, combine the wine and port and bring to a boil. Add the water, sugar, vanilla bean, peppercorns and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil again. Add the quince and candied orange and simmer over moderately low heat until the quince are just tender, about 45 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large microwave-safe bowl, cover the pears and figs with 1 inch of water. Microwave in 5-minute increments at high power until the fruit is plump but not mushy, about 15 minutes; drain. Add the pears, figs, apricots and prunes to the wine syrup and simmer until all of the fruit is plump and very tender and the liquid is thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick, vanilla bean and peppercorns and let cool. Serve the stewed fruit warm or chilled.

Make Ahead

The stewed fruit and its syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Photo © Jonny Valiant Published December 2011

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