Rhubarb on toast

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” ~ Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Cooked. 

The beautiful thing about recipes passed down from one generation to the next is that you know they are good.  There is no need to second guess an ingredient and you are almost guaranteed to know the results before you start.  This recipe for Rhubarb Compote comes straight from my great-grandmother’s kitchen.  Spread on lightly buttered toast, it is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

So what exactly is a fruit compote?   Simply put, the word compote means “mixture” in French.  In the early 17th century, the French began to cook their fruit in a mixture of sugar and spices to serve as dessert.    Because it was made with inexpensive ingredients and was easy to prepare, fruit compote became a staple served warm with biscuits and cream as an afternoon snack.  During the Renaissance, it became popular to serve chilled after dinner.

This recipe for Rhubarb Compote was passed down from my great-grandmother

Today, compotes are prepared in the same traditional manner and can be served in a wide variety of ways.  This recipe skips the spices and includes orange juice to create a fresh summer taste.  It is also a two-for-one recipe because you end up with an amazing Rhubarb Simple Syrup when done.  Served warm or chilled, it makes a wonderful addition to an ice cream sundae or simply topped with whipped cream for quick dessert.


Tips for making Rhubarb Compote:

  • Make sure to dissolve all the sugar in warm water before adding any of the other ingredients.
  • Always use fresh squeeze orange juice for the best flavor.
  • The fruit will break down and get stringy while you cook.  Try not to mash it up too much with your spoon while stirring.
  • When separating the simple syrup from the compote through the mesh strainer, you want to leave some of the liquid in with the fruit.
  • For more information on how to pick and prepare rhubarb, click here.


Rhubarb Compote on Toast

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: approx 2 cups


  • 1 cup raw organic sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 4 cups rhubarb, washed and chopped into 1/2" sections
  • 2 pieces of toast


  1. In a heavy bottom pot, dissolve sugar in water over medium heat.
  2. Add rhubarb and orange juice. Bring liquid to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The rhubarb will start to soften and liquid will thicken. Remove from heat.
  4. Pour the rhubarb mixture through a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Press gently on the fruit with the back of a spoon to help extract some extra syrup from the fruit.
  5. Transfer the remaining fruit compote to a bowl (see below for the remaining syrup).
  6. Toast and butter bread.
  7. Spread warm compote on toast as you would jam.
  8. Refrigerate remaining Rhubarb Compote for up to one week (and enjoy every day for breakfast!).


The syrup that is strained from the pulp makes the beautiful red simple syrup. Do not discard. Carefully transfer to a clean mason jar or sealed container and use in lemonade or on top of ice cream. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *