Coulis Vs Compote: What’s the Difference?

Coulis Vs Compote

This Coulis vs Compote post is written to help you keep them straight. Caulis and compote may appear very similar, but they also have some key differences. Once you understand these differences, you will be able to tell them apart quite quickly. 

It can be pretty challenging to have to remember different sauces from memory. Coulis and compote are especially tricky as they are both sauces made from fruits and often have other ingredients such as spices. They can also be used as dressings or toppings for sweet dishes. 

Read on to understand more about the differences in their preparation, use, appearance, flavour, preservation, etc. 

What Is a Coulis

A coulis is a thin sauce made by pureeing and straining vegetables or fruits. The most commonly used fruits include strawberries, passion fruits, mangoes, raspberries, tomatoes, and blueberries. 

Coulis Vs Compote

You can make a coulis from raw or cooked fruits. It is used as a decoration for pastries, cakes, etc., and adds flavor to savory dishes.  A vegetable coulis is used for meat dishes and as a base for other sauces and soups.

It acts as a topping for desserts, cakes, and breakfasts. 

How to Make a Coulis

  • Puree your fruits or vegetables together in a blender. 
  • Add in some sugar and water and blend. 
  • Strain the pureed fruits using a fine mesh or a sieve. This is done to remove the seeds and the larger pieces of fruit from the pureed mixture. 
  • Add some liquor (based on preference)
  • Add some spices (based on preference)
  • Some recipes also advise the use of a thickening agent. 

What Is a Compote

A compote is a sauce made by cooking fruits in a sugary syrup. You can use whole or diced fruits to make a compote. You can also make your compote using a mixture of fruits rather than a single fruit. You can use dried fruits to make a compote. 

Coulis Vs Compote

The most commonly used fruits when making compotes are apples, cranberries, strawberries, and blackberries, with cranberry and apple compote sauces being the most popular. 

A compote is eaten with other dishes or alone as a fruit dessert. It can be topped on other foods or spread to enrich their flavor. 

How to Make a Compote

  • Pick your fruit of choice. You can choose from apples, cranberries, strawberries, etc., or you can go with a mixture of different fruits. 
  • Slowly cook your fruits in a sugary syrup until they soften. Ensure to cook over low heat.
  • You can also cook the fruits in liquor instead of sugary syrup. 
  • Some recipes might ask you to add spices such as cloves and cinnamon for a richer flavor. 
  • Use as is, with the chunky pieces of fruit mixed with the sugary syrup and their juices.

As the fruits cook, they undergo reduction and release juices that combine with the sugary syrup or liquor to form a thick sauce. Therefore, no thickeners are required when making a compote. 

Differences Between Coulis And Compotes

  1. A coulis is a smooth-flowing liquid drizzled on other dishes, while compotes have a chunky texture due to the chunky pieces of fruit. 
  2. A coulis cannot be eaten on its own (it has to be combined with other dishes), while a compote can be eaten as a fruit dessert. 
  3. A coulis can be made using vegetables and fruits while you can only make a compote from fruits. 
  4. A coulis is made from raw or cooked fruits and vegetables, but the fruits have to be cooked when making a compote. 

FAQs About Compotes

What Makes A Compote A Compote?

Compotes are identified by their signature flavor. They are made by slowly cooking chunks of fruit over low heat to create a sweet and savory flavor that acts as a perfect condiment for other sweet dishes. A compote can also be eaten alone as a fruit dessert. 

How Do You Thicken Fruit Compote?

One of the most natural ways to thicken your fruit compote is to let it slow-cook for longer. This reduces the fruit further and forms a thicker sauce. 

Other alternative methods that are commonly used include adding cornstarch to the compote as it simmers, adding egg yolks, preparing a roux, making a beurre manie, adding pureed vegetables, or using other thickening agents. 

When using cornstarch to thicken your fruit compote, you should first make a cornstarch slurry by mixing cornstarch and water. Once you add the slurry to the compote, stir until the sauce thickens. 

How Do You Eat Compote?

The best ways to eat compote are by using it to top off custards, mixing it with yogurts, using the compote as a side for cheese dishes, sweetening scones, adding to french toast, topping cakes and other desserts, or decorating meat dishes. You can also eat the compote on its own as a fruit dessert.

Compotes can be served chilled or warm, chunky or smooth. It is a versatile decorative, topping, and condiment for many dishes. 

Is Chutney a Compote?

No, chutney is not a compote. Even though they are similar condiments, you can only make compotes by cooking fruit in sugary syrup. 

On the other hand, chutney is made by cooking fruits, vegetables, sugar, spices, and vinegar. 

Is Jam a Compote?

No, jam is not a compote. The fruits used to make jam are broken down to make it spreadable, but the fruits in a compote are left as large pieces and occasionally as the whole fruit. 

Additionally, savory spices such as cinnamon and black pepper are added to compotes. 

Can Compote Be Used As Jam?

Yes, compote can have the spreadable qualities of jam. However, this usually depends on the recipe used. You can have a recipe that makes a soft compote with pureed fruit qualities. This is usually achieved by using small pieces of fruits and varying the pectin content of the compote. 

Are Preserves The Same as Compote?

No, compotes are not the same as preserves. However, compotes and preserves can be considered cousins as they are fruit condiments used to flavor dishes. 

The difference is that preserves are meant for future use while compotes are prepared for use straight away. Preserves are stored in jars with a preserving agent such as sugar or acid. Compotes do not have a preserving agent.  

Can You Freeze Homemade Fruit Compote?

Yes, you can freeze homemade compote. However, consuming compote is recommended immediately after preparation to enjoy the best flavor. 

When freezing, ensure to use sterilized jars to increase the lifespan of your compote. Only thaw as much as you need. 

How Long Does Compote Last In The Freezer?

Compote stays fresh in the freezer for up to a month. However, if you do not take the proper storage precautions, your compote could spoil sooner. 

When freezing compote, ensure to use sterilized plastic containers to prevent the introduction of bacteria to your compote. Additionally, do not defrost more than you need. 

Compote can be refrigerated for two weeks. 

FAQs About Coulis 

How Is A Coulis Different From A Purée?

The difference between a coulis and a puree is that a coulis has undergone an extra step in refinement. A puree is ground or crushed food that has formed a thick liquid. To make a coulis, you first make a puree by blending fruits or vegetables, then refine it further by straining the puree to remove big pieces of food. 

How Do You Thicken A Coulis?

Coulis is thickened by adding thickening agents. Some of the most common thickening agents are flour and cornstarch. 

If your coulis is runny, prepare a slurry by adding equal parts of cornstarch or flour to water. Whisk together to smoothen, then add to your coulis. 

You can also add a beurre manie. A beurre manie is made by kneading together equal parts of flour and softened butter. 

Is Coulis Cooked?

Coulis are usually not cooked because the goal is to highlight the flavor and freshness of the fruit used. Sometimes, lemon juice is added to enhance the taste and preserve the color of the fruit. 

However,  more recent recipes by modern chefs break this rule. They involve cooking and adding other ingredients to the coulis. 

How Do You Thin Out A Coulis?

If your coulis is too thin, you can thin it out by adding a few tablespoons of water, orange juice, or lemon juice. You can also add flavored liquor to your coulis to make it smoother. 

What Is The Consistency Of Coulis?

The consistency of a coulis can vary based on what you’re going for. However, it should have a liquid form and be able to flow. You can go for a tomato sauce or a heavy-cream consistency for your coulis if you want to stick by the books.

Can You Preserve Coulis?

Yes, coulis can be preserved. The most common ways to preserve coulis include freezing or storing it in a sterilized bottle. When processed correctly before bottling, bottled coulis can stay fresh longer than frozen coulis.

When refrigerated, coulis lasts for up to seven days. When frozen, coulis lasts for up to three months. When bottled, coulis can last up to two years. 

Bottom Line

Fruits are versatile condiments, toppings, decoratives, and dressings for sweet and savory dishes. You can use apples, cranberries, strawberries, and blackberries to make a coulis or a compote to add flavor to a desert, a stew, or a meat dish. 

Coulis and compotes are very easy to make. Add them to your arsenal of delicious deserts today to improve your dishes. 

Denzil Otieno

Denzil is a freelance content marketer with an eye for detail and a knack for making even the driest of topics interesting. He's worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, but he's not one to rest on his laurels - he's always looking for new challenges and ways to improve his skills. In his spare time, Denzil enjoys reading (especially anything by Terry Pratchett), watching films (he has a soft spot for 80s action movies) and spending time with his wife and two cats.

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