June 11th, 2012

The Plum Post

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Good morning, Friends!

As I write this post, squirrels and birds are finishing off the last of the plums on our little backyard tree. A frenzy, you can believe it. I don’t mind. In my kitchen, there’s a huge pot filled with simmering fruit, a pantry stashed with fresh preserves, and a table covered with bowls of the plucked, all in varying shades of red violet, awaiting their destiny.

So many plums. Too many to count!

Conditions must have been beyond ideal this year. A mild, wet winter and a warm, almost summerlike spring–our tree blossomed 2 weeks early, dazzling in its fleecy whites. Over time, its limbs became vertical, dragging the ground, overladen with ripening fruit.

In years past, I’ve been forced to act quickly, snatching plums as soon as they showed that first rosy blush, in order to garner any before my backyard menagerie decimated the crop. This year, no problem: there’s been a gracious plenty for all.

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Now, what to do with them?

Friend Maggie likes to make plum jelly: long-simmer the fruit and skillfully strain it for all its juices to make a pretty, ruby-clear spread for toast.

I’m more of a jam-preserves kind of girl. I’ve been cooking down the plums in a bit of sugar, allowing their skins to dissolve into the mix. The plums are juicy and tart; I cook them with just enough sugar to bolster their flavor, while still honoring that tartness. As they soften and release their juices, I fish out the pits. (Sometimes I run the cooked plums through the food mill to accomplish that.)

I pour the preserves into sterile jars and process them in a hot water bath for 5 minutes. I also keep some handy, in sterilized, but unprocessed jars, tucked in my fridge. (This freezes well, too–for those of you leery of canning.)

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This way, I have plums in a plain yet versatile form, ready to slather on crusty bread with goat cheese, ladle over ice cream, blend into a marinade for grilled chicken, or whisk into a vinaigrette. Add ginger, garlic, hoisin, and the plums take on an Asian flair. Lemon and cinnamon for an Italian plum-good cake.

In crisps or crumbles: whole ripe plums lend themselves nicely for this kind of dessert. I’ve concocted a gluten-free version that uses oatmeal and ground toasted almonds that I think you’ll enjoy. I look forward to learning your ideas, too.

Here’s a round-up of my plum goodies.

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BASIC PLUM PRESERVES/SAUCE

10-12 c. whole plums, washed
2 c. Sugar

large heavy-duty stockpot, canning tongs, clean jars, lids, seals

Place plums into your large pot on medium heat. Pour in the sugar. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or so. Uncover. Spoon off the foam collected on the top. Stir and continue to simmer, uncovered for another 15 minutes or so.

When the skins seem to have melted into the liquid, and the flesh of the fruit gives way, you can begin straining the plum pits. Some you will see floating in the red sea–just spoon them out. For the rest, set a strainer over a large bowl, and begin pour the cooked plum and juices through. Press with the back of a wooden spoon to crush the fruit and release the pits. Or, run the plum-mix through a food mill set with the largest openings. You’ll get a lush puree. And the color, a knock-out!

Return the puree to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes.

Pour into sterile mason jars, seal and process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes.

Makes 6 half pints.

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PLUM VINAIGRETTE/GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD

3 T. White Wine Vinegar
6 T. Plum Preserves
1/2 t. Black Pepper
1/2 t. Salt
1/2 c. fruity Olive Oil

Place all the ingredients except for the olive oil into a bowl. Whisk (or use a hand-held immersion blender) until combined. The plum preserve acts as an emulsifier. Slowly add the olive oil while blending. Makes a thick creamy vinaigrette.

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For the Grilled Chicken Salad:
2 boneless Chicken Breasts
1 bunch of mixed lettuces
1/4 lb. Sugar Snap Peas
2 Green Onions
2-3 Nasturtium flowers

Plum Vinaigrette

Slather a couple of tablespoons of the plum vinaigrette onto boneless chicken breasts and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours.
Grill char the sugar snaps and green onions.
Grill the chicken breasts. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing onto salad.

Compose Salad: bed of lettuces, charred sugar snaps and green onions. Sprinkle with nasturtium leaves for color and peppery bite.
Place sliced grilled chicken on top and dress with plum vinaigrette.

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GLUTEN-FREE PLUM CRUMBLE

1/2 c. Oatmeal
1/2 c. Almonds, toasted and finely ground
1/3 c. Turbinado Sugar
4 T. melted Butter

2 c. sliced ripe Plums (about a dozen)

9″ pie dish

Toast almonds in the oven and cool. Place into the food processor fitted with a swivel blade and pulse until the nuts achieve a powdery form.

Mix ground almonds, oats, brown sugar and melted butter. Add a pinch of cinnamon, if you like.

Take half of the mixture and press it onto the bottom and sides of a 9″ pie pan.

Slice plums and arrange in overlapping concentric rings on top of the crust. Continue until the dish is well filled. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and dot with butter.

Take remaining almond-oatmeal crust and press over the top.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

Delicious served warm with vanilla or ginger ice cream. Garnish with some plum sauce. Serves 6-8

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Posted in Desserts, Fruit, Gluten Free, Recipes, Salads, Sauces

29 Responses to “The Plum Post”
  1. Nancy Says:

    Glad to hear of your gorgeous bounty, and that you’re making such good use of all those plums! I love them in a crumble, and your gluten-free version sounds fantastic. Can’t wait till they’re in season here in the northeast.

  2. Teresa, foodonfifth.com Says:

    Great plum bounty Nance. All your recipes look marvelous. I am a fan of plum jams, jellies, sauces so that is my favorite. Such pretty plummy color.

  3. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    That vinegarette looks so great! Perfect chicken salad :)

  4. Eileen Says:

    PLUMS! I’ll be making the same rush of preparations in two or three weeks, when our plums are finally ready. That vinaigrette is a brilliant idea!

  5. Tammy Says:

    They’re beautiful and so are all the ways that you’ve used them. I especially like the idea of the plum viniagrette.

  6. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    How wonderful to have this bumper crop of plums!The jars of preserves look like sparkling jewels, and the recipes made from them delicious.

  7. Maggie Says:

    Beautiful, perfect plums, Nance!! I’ll go for the crumble, though everything looks delish! Thank goodness for a year of just-right conditions!

  8. Barbara Says:

    You have a plum tree, Nancy? How cool is that? Love all the ways you’re using them too. The plum vinaigrette looks wonderful.. I don’t have a tree, but will buy some at the market and make some of those preserves.

  9. Wendy Says:

    The crumble is outstanding–love to make different types for Jimmy Z since they are a bit healthier than pies. Next time I’ll try your plum recipe.

  10. goodfoodmatters Says:

    It is simple, delicious, and much healthier for sure, Wendy. Come by and get some plums for Jimmy Z! I got hoards of them.

  11. fluffy Says:

    that crumble is plum-yummy

    yahoo

  12. Juliana Says:

    Wow Nancy…your plum preserve look awesome…can you share a jar :)
    I love the idea of plum crumble as well…from what I see you will not be without plum for a while :)
    Hope you are having a wonderful week!

  13. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I love plums. This all looks great, especially your plum vinaigrette and grilled chicken salad. Good stuff.

  14. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    i mean wow! I don’t even know where to begin! It is all fantastic! Simply stunning pics and amazing recipes. I think my favorite is the plum crumble? Or no wait maybe the plum sauce for the salad! Oh too many to pin down!

  15. Faith Says:

    You have shared so many delicious uses for plums — now where to start?! Lol. Everything looks fantastic, especially the preserves.

  16. rhonda Says:

    your photography skills match your cooking and verbal skills……wonderful!!!! thanks for sharing.

  17. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Juliana–I’d love to share a jar or two! :)

    rhonda–thanks for the kind words

  18. Beth Says:

    My heart is with the plum crumble! Crisps, crumbles and other fruit desserts are my absolute favorites, and that makes this time of year even more wonderful!

  19. heather Says:

    Wow, thank you!

  20. kankana Says:

    This post is like plum wonderland ! It was fun and the the plum vinaigrette went in my wish list :)

  21. Mary Says:

    This all sounds delicious! I love homemade jams and sauces. Those plums were beautiful.

  22. Magda | My Little Expat Kitchen Says:

    Wow, plums, beautiful, juicy plums! I love their color. I’m dreaming of a plum cake I want to make since last year and I’m still waiting for good plums to appear here in Holland.
    Everything you have cooked with them looks amazing, as always :) I can’t wait to try the plum vinaigrette!

  23. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    I had a Japanese Yellow Plum tree in our orchard that was wonderful. I loved making jam and cooking with them. I lost the tree after an ice storm but it brought great pleasure while it was alive. Your recipes sound delicious.

  24. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    I love the versatility of this plum jam! I grew up with a plum tree and it was a competition between my siblings and I as to who could put these down faster. If I only had the foresight to make the abundant fruit into jam, I would have won. The crumble sounds terrific!

  25. Kath Says:

    For some reason your last two posts didn’t drop into my mailbox. I have just tried to subscribe again but it tells me that I am already subscribed. I wonder what is happening? I will just have to drop in more often to make sure I don’t miss anything.
    The crumble wins my vote.

  26. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Kath–that is strange, because, oddly, your comment got sent to my spam folder (which I do check, because sometimes, like now, mistakes are made!) Have you checked to see if those two got sent to spam?
    inexplicable internet stuff.

  27. amelia from z tasty life Says:

    so many wonderful creations! the crumble definitively caught my eye

  28. Dana Says:

    Late to this post. Do you know the name of the variety of plum tree?

  29. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Dana, I sure don’t. The previous owners of our Belmont casa planted it, and I’ve never tried to find out!
    Perhaps an Opal or an Avalon?



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