What is it?
Rote Grütze is a compote style dessert made from red fruits.
How is it called in German?
“Rot” is the German word for “Red”.
Cultural Background Story
Rote Grütze is a typical speciality in northern Germany. From East Friesland to Bremen and Hamburg and up to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – the dessert is tradition everywhere.
In a Schleswig-Holstein dictionary from the 17th century the first recipe for Rote Grütze can be found – “Roode Grütt”. At this time the cereal porridge was cooked in black currant juice and served with cream or milk.
Two centuries later, many different recipes were created, that contribute to the multitude of recipes that exist today.
However, the origin is not quite clear, because the Scandinavians also claim the Rote Grütze for themselves.
Image: Bremen/Northern Germany
German Red Fruit Compote
Rote Grütze recipes call for some kind of a thickening agent. In the old days people used to use a mixture of rough-cut grain corns (oats, barley, buckwheat, corn, rye or wheat) or simply groats. Today people use cornflour, sago or vanilla pudding powder as a binding agent.
Of course, something sweet can’t be missing from this tangy dessert. In earlier times, people would pour cold cows’ milk, that they had on their farm anyway, over the Grütze. Today sweet cream, vanilla ice cream or vanilla sauce are the favorites. It is also the perfect topping to refine a semolina or rice pudding.
Hamburger Rote Grütze - German Red Fruit Compote
- 1 pound strawberries
- 9 oz. raspberries
- 9 oz. red currants alternatively tart cherries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cups juice
- 3.5 oz. instant vanilla pudding
- Wash all fruit, remove the stems, and cut the strawberries into small pieces.
- Add the fruit juice, sugar, cinnamon stick and vanilla extract to a medium sized pot and bring the mixture to a boil.
- In the meantime, reserve a few fruits for the garnish and set them aside.
- Add about half of the remaining fruit to the pot and simmer on low heat.
- Mix the vanilla pudding powder with a few tablespoons of water or juice in a small bowl and then blend it with the simmering fruit mixture.
- Bring to a boil and mix well until everything is well combined.
- Remove the pot from the heat and remove the cinnamon stick.
- Blend the remaining other half of fruit into the mixture.
- Portion the Rote Grütze into individual decorative glasses or into an airtight container. Allow to cool completely and store in the fridge until serving.
Nowadays there are many different variations of Grütze. Depending on your taste, you can create your own “Rote Grütze” – there are no boundaries, not even when it comes to the color!
The traditional variation of “Rote Grütze” include black and red currants as well as raspberries and strawberries. Sometimes Morello cherries are included as well. Strawberries make it sweeter, which kids love. Sweet and sour cherries as well as rhubarb are also great.
Sometimes even fruits such as pineapples or bananas will make their way into the mix. Gooseberries are an important ingredient in a “Grüne Grütze” (green Grütze), peaches will change to colour of the Grütze to yellow.