Confit is any type of food that is cooked slowly over a long period of time as a method of preservation. Confit as a cooking term describes when food is cooked in grease, oil or sugar water, at a lower temperature, as opposed to deep frying. It’s a traditional French cooking method, and originally referred to anything preserved by slowly cooking it in any liquid; fruits, for example, would be confited in sugar syrup. Nowadays, however, it tends to refer to food that’s been slow-cooked in fat and not necessarily aged or stored.
So what is confit?
Traditionally, confit simply refers to any sort of preserved food, whether it’s meat, fruit, or vegetables. This preservation takes place by slowly cooking food in a liquid that is inhospitable to bacterial growth. With fruits, this is generally a very concentrated sugar syrup*; with meats and vegetables, a pure fat. Once cooked, the food is then packed into containers and completely submerged in the liquid, creating an impenetrable barrier and preventing any further bacterial growth. Since the just-cooked food is nearly sterile as it is submerged and is cut off from any potential bacterial contamination sources, it can be thusly stored for a very long time indeed. Properly confit’ed duck legs, for instance, can last several weeks in a cool room, several months in a refrigerator. Confit fruit can last for years.
While the method was originally created as a matter of necessity—meats needed to be preserved in the days before refrigeration—as with many such foods, the process lingers on as a matter of good taste.
How to make it and how it actually works
So we come again to the question: If we’re submerging something in fat and cooking it, how come the results are so different from deep-fat frying?
With deep fat frying, the end-game is a crisp, crunchy surface, and the means to get there? Dehydration. A high temperatures, water is very rapidly and forcefully expelled from surfaces due to evaporation. When you drop a battered cod filet or a breaded chicken finger into hot oil, its water content quickly turns into steam, bubbling up and out of the oil. Meanwhile, the high heat triggers the Maillard reaction, a series of chemical reactions that develops flavor and turns foods that delicious golden brown. Cooking times are measured in minutes or seconds, and as soon as the food is done, it’s retrieved, and served.
A confit, on the other hand, is a much cooler affair. Generally, cold or room temperature fat is poured over the item-to-be-confit’ed, then it’s placed in a relatively low temperature oven, say, 250 to 275°F. During the course of cooking, the fat temperature will not rise much above 190 to 200°F—hot enough to break down tough connective tissue, but not hot enough to boil water or cause much evaporation. Meats cook and tenderize with virtually no moisture loss or flavor loss. Cooking times are measured in hours, rather than minutes.
To make your own fruit confit you will need:
300-500 g fruit of your choice such as pears, grapefruit, apple or quince
2 cups water
200 g sugar
3 T lemon juice
Quarter the fruit and place in a saucepan with the water, sugar and lemon juice. If you’re using grapefruit, peel and segment it over a bowl to catch the juice. Add both the fruit and the juice to the pan. If you like, you can use the peel, too. Remove the pith and slice the skin thinly.
Bring to a slow simmer and cook for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the fruit is soft. Allow to cool and store in sealed, sterilized jars.
The basic method for making (sweet) confit with its traditional syrup recipe:
Heat the cooking liquid and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Your liquid can include sweet wine or port, if you like.
Trim your fruit, add it to the cooking liquid and cook until the fruit softens up (but don’t let it go mushy). This cooking time can be anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the fruit you use and how large the pieces of fruit are.
Sterilize some glass jars.
Remove the fruit and put it into the sterilized jars. If the syrup isn’t as thick as you’d like, let it simmer for a while longer.
Add the syrup over the fruit in the glass jars. (Note: just because you sterilize the jars doesn’t mean you’re canning the fruit; that would also require boiling the filled jars in a water bath.)
Store in your fridge.
Store in a cool, dark place.
So … what’s the difference between confit, confiture, jam, compote and coulis?
These 5 can get confusing as they are all so similar but there are surprisingly lots of differences and we’re about the dive into them!
For a basic understanding of the differences: confit and confiture are French words based on the verb confire, to preserve. In baking, confit is candied fruit, cooked and preserved in sugar. Confiture is the French word for jam, preserves or marmalade but we also say confiture in English. Compote is fruit, either fresh or dried, slow cooked in a sugary syrup and often served as dessert; unlike jam, fruit in compote maintains its shape. Coulis is a fruit (or vegetable) purée, used as a sauce or decorative element.
translated into jam, preserves or marmalade. This is one of those French cooking terms we’ve adopted in English, though it’s less common to say confiture than jam. Since confiture is basically fruit jam, it goes well with much of the same things as jam would.
Compote is “fruit stewed or cooked in a syrup, usually served as a dessert,” according to Dictionary.com. Compote can be made with dried or fresh fruit, either chopped up or served whole. A pear compote is a whole-pear showstopper, for example. Unlike jam, confit and confiture, the purpose of a compote isn’t to preserve fruit. Instead, it turns fruit into a yummy dessert that won’t last long!
A coulis made of fruit is typically used with desserts whereas a coulis made of vegetables or meat is generally served in or with savoury dishes and is a thick purée, usually of vegetables or fruit. (In historical usage, meat, fish or shellfish purée; meat jus; or certain thick soups.) Use fruit coulis as a decorative/design element on the plate of a sweet or savoury dish. Or make it part of dessert or breakfast. Just like all the other fruit dishes mentioned so far, fruit coulis goes great with waffles, crepes, bread, oatmeal, cheesecake, custard, rice pudding, smoothies, etc.
You can eat vegetable coulis as a dip, sauce, cold soup or, if it’s thick enough, as a vegetable side dish (if you get tired of mashed potatoes).
The differences between confit, confiture, jam, compote and coulis include what they are, ingredients, cooking time, thickness and fruit size.
The similarities between confit, confiture, jam, compote and coulis that make them easy to confuse include the cooking method (stove top, mostly), the serving temperature (room temperature) and the appropriateness for adding a kick to barbeque sauces (yes). They also all provide a nice contrast to a slice of pâté and/or some nice cheese.
How do we eat fruit confit?
Fig confit is the nicest possible condiment to have with cheese, cold beef, charcuterie, sausages, meatloaf, ploughman’s sandwich, cheese.
Of course, you could also serve it with crackers, toast, pâté en terrine, ice cream, whipped cream and anything else that captures your imagination. Plus, it would likely go great with meat confit as fruit confit is light and the sweetness would compliment the richness of the meat confit. A dollop of fruit confit beside a crispy duck leg.
Is it healthy?
One common misperception many folks have about confit is that it is necessarily a fatty food. That food is submerged in fat for hours, so that fat must make its way inside, right? Not so. Indeed, the fat is largely a surface treatment for muscles and to preserve. While it is true that it may find its way between the larger muscle groups and will cover the entire piece of meat in a thin layer of fat, it will not penetrate very far into the meat itself and this is of course no worry for fruit confits. This is easy to see simply by cutting open a large muscle group and examining the inside. It looks virtually the same as meat cooked through any other low-and-slow method, such as braising or steaming.
Often fat isnt used for fruit confits and instead syrup is used, lots of syrups can offer health benefits but can also be unhealthy if too much is consumed. If you want a healthier fruit confit opt for lemon juice and sugar instead!
Our shop offers pre-made fruit confits in the flavours:
They are all £4.95 and made with the most fresh high quality and organic Spanish ingredients from the Ebro Valley to accompany foie gras, meats, cheese, and smoked fish. Iberian Peninsula in Spain, and the second longest river therein. The river, along with Tagus, has the second largest discharge volume after only the Duero River. The flow of the Ebro River is to the southeast course to its delta, which is 910 kilometers away from it source in Pico Tres Mares, emptying into the Atlantic in the Tarragona Province. The drainage basin of the Ebro River is the largest in Spain at 33,000 square miles. It receives water from nearly 200 tributaries and is used for the production of hydroelectricity.
If you want to make your own we also offer traditional ingredients to aid you.