Kompot is a Russian beverage made by stewing fruit in water with sugar, cooling this mixture, and then serving the liquid in a glass. There are a number of different varieties that can be made using this basic structure, and just about any fruit can be used. Though this drink can be served warm or hot, somewhat similar to a mulled cider, the flavors will intensify while cooling so it is typically served cold. Kompot can also be made using dried fruits, in which case it is usually referred to as uzvar instead.
Not to be confused with the thick mixture of fruits called “compote,” kompot is a drink that spread throughout much of Eastern Europe during the height of the Soviet Union and remains popular in many areas. It is one of the most popular and common drinks in Russia and can be found in restaurants and households throughout the country. This drink has also spread to other countries and regions as an alternative to soda or drink mix beverages that can contain a great deal of sugar. While sugar is typically added to kompot, this amount can be quite low and easily controlled by the person making the beverage.
Kompot typically begins with about any kind of fresh fruit. Berries are quite popular, though other fruits such as apples, pears, figs, and even bananas can be used to create this drink. Kompot is quite easy to make, and begins with a large pot of water brought to a boil. The fruit is cut up if large, but does not need to be peeled or otherwise prepared except to remove inedible skins or pits from certain fruits.
Once the water is boiling, the fruit is added and mixed, then sugar or honey is added and allowed to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. More sugar can be added to taste, and the pot is then removed from the heat. The fruit is left in the liquid and allowed to cool for several hours. During this time, the flavors will intensify and once cool it can be served in a glass, either strained or with the fruit left in, depending on personal preference.
Kompot that is prepared using dried fruit is typically referred to as uzvar. This drink traditionally uses dried apples, pears, and prunes, which are allowed to reconstitute in the water overnight before being brought to a boil and simmered like the fresh fruit version. Uzvar can be difficult to make properly in some areas, however, since countries like the US often add preservatives like sodium dioxide to dried fruit, which can diminish the flavor of the fruit.