In a heavy-bottomed pot combine the fresh cranberries, water, and sugar. Split the vanilla bean open lengthwise, and then cut it in half. Add it to the pot.
Bring the syrup to a simmer. The cranberries will start to pop. Stir and press the cranberries against the sides of the pot to smash them a little to extract more juice. Cook for about 15 minutes and then turn off the heat. Allow to steep and cool slightly for another 15 minutes.
During the testing of this recipe, I used both fresh and fresh-frozen cranberries and there was no difference in the result, so stock up while they are in season and on sale!
Yield: About 3.5 cups of syrup and 2 cups of compote.
Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer (see photo). What is left in the strainer is the compote so don't toss it!. The syrup should be bright red, almost translucent, and may have vanilla bean flecks in it.
For a great soda, add about 1 oz of syrup to 12 oz seltzer water.