Blueberry or bilberry compote


Blåbär (bilberries) are abundant all over Sweden. Apparently, 17% of Sweden is covered in bilberry bushes. As a result perhaps, they have been a favourite berry in Sweden for thousands of years.

Bilberries are more delicious than blueberries, their cultivated cousins. Too bad that I can only get cultivated blueberries. They are still pretty good and much better than no blueberries at all and they keep well as they contain a natural preservative. This is good and bad. Supermarkets love to stock them because they have a long shelf life, but their taste fades with age so it is worth checking that they are fresh and not dried out or mouldy.

They can be eaten raw with sugar and cream, but they also make a delicious compote which then goes really well with yoghurt, on toast or on pancakes or some Swedish waffles. John



  • Use the ratios below if you want to make a larger amount for keeping.
  • Don’t be tempted to turn the compote into jam without using a jam thermometer. I remember my Dad ruining so many jars of marmalade because he overcooked it! Only really experienced jam makers can use the saucer test!
  • Add some vanilla sugar in place of the jam sugar.
  • Add a pinch of cinnamon.
  • Use honey instead of sugar.


100 g (4 oz) blueberries, fresh or frozen (or use bilberries if you can get them!)
½ tsp   lemon juice
1 tbsp   jam sugar


1. Pick over the blueberries, removing any stalks. Rinse and drain.

2. Tip the blueberries into a saucepan and add the lemon juice and sugar.

3. Heat the mixture for 2 or 3 minutes over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally until the blueberries start to pop and soften slightly.

4. Bring to the boil and then boil steadily for 3 minutes for a runny consistency or up to 6 minutes for a firmer set. (Don’t be tempted to go beyond 6 minutes, as you will end up with a compote that is over-set and has less flavour.)

5. Remove any scum from the surface with a slotted spoon.

6. If you are making a larger quantity for keeping, allow the compote to cool for 15 minutes and then carefully pour it into sterilised jars. Cover with a waxed disc (waxed side down), label and date.

Sterilising jars

Sterilise jars by washing and drying them, then putting them in a moderate oven for 5 minutes.


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