Plum tired of the ordinary? Try these recipesPaging through the dessert section of any general cookbook will bring very few recipes for fresh plums. Yet, one of the most delicious, juicy, sweet, summer fruits is a plum.
By: Lynette Gudrais, food columnist, The Republican Eagle
Paging through the dessert section of any general cookbook will bring very few recipes for fresh plums. Yet, one of the most delicious, juicy, sweet, summer fruits is a plum.
Of course, there are plenty of recipes for the dried plum — the prune— but they don’t hold a candle to the fresh ones.
I wondered why this was true. Perhaps it’s because if you don’t take off the skins, they tend to shrivel and spoil the appearance of the dish. Yet, if you do take off the skins, you lose the beautiful purple color. Perhaps it’s the difficulty (some say) of finding juicy, sweet plums at the market. But after an interesting hunt through my books and magazines, I found some fantastic recipes using plums.
Distinguishing types of plums is a good place to start. In our markets, plums are available from June until October in good supply and are relatively inexpensive. Other months they can be purchased but at a greater price and they are not nearly so good.
The two most common are the Friar and the Santa Rosa. The Friar is deep blackish purple when ripe and its juicy, sweet flesh and tart skin are good cooked or raw. The other, the Santa Rosa, is a red plum with a sweet-tart flavor. It is especially good for compotes and eaten raw.
Another type of plum with a very limited two- to three-month market appearance is the Italian prune-plum. It is a small, dark purple-to-black variety. Many of the recipes I found used this plum.
If you’ve had a lot of not-so-wonderful plums, you might try these tips for picking good ones: Press a plum gently at its equator. If it yields to pressure, it’s ready to eat. Softness at the tip and stem end are other readiness clues.
If the plum is hard, it may soften on the counter at room temperature, but it won’t get sweeter — so you’re best bet is to buy them ready to eat. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to four days. Plums can be made into preserves and also pickled.
Try some of these interesting ways to use plums available now:
Polish Plum Pudding
1 lb. plums, blanched and peeled
4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup sugar
6 eggs, separated; whites stiffly beaten
14 cups dry bread crumbs
Melt 1 Tbsp of the butter in a saucepan and add the plums. When the juice starts to run, stir in half of the sugar and simmer for 20 minutes or until the plums are tender. Cool the plums and then transfer to a bowl. Halve the plums, remove the pits and make a smooth puree using a blender. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan and let it cool. In a mixer bowl, beat the egg yolks, the melted butter, the rest of the sugar and two thirds of the bread crumbs. Stir this mixture into the plum puree. Gradually fold in the beaten egg whites, then transfer the pudding to a 4-cup mold that has been buttered and sprinkled with the remaining bread crumbs. Bake the pudding in a preheated 425 deg. F oven for 20 minutes or until set and browned. Unmold the pudding and serve it hot with sour cream and sugar. (adapted from a Polish Cookbook by Ida Plucinska).
The easiest way to freeze plums is whole, unsweetened, simply washed and pitted. Pack them into freezer bags either whole or halved or quartered. Freestone plums are easier to prepare and are more attractive frozen.
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 pound frozen, pitted plums
8 tsp. fresh lime juice
6 ounces plain yogurt
Bring the sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and cool. Put into blender (in two batches) the plums, cooled syrup and lime juice and puree until smooth. Stir in the yogurt and pour into tall glasses or freeze for a delicious frozen treat.
If you are lucky enough to get your hands on the Italian prune plums during their short season, this cake is a winner.
(Zwechgen Kuchen) adapted from Charlotte Erickson’s Freezer Cookbook)
1 1/3 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup golden raisins
16 pitted Italian prune-plums
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp cold butter
Preheat oven to 350. Mix baking mix, eggs and oil with half the cream. Add sugar and vanilla. Then add remaining cream and mix until smooth. Place in greased pan or dish. Batter should measure 3/8 to 1/2 inch in depth, no more. Sprinkle with raisins and cover with sliced plums, cut side up, arranged in a neat pattern, as close together as possible.
Topping: Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon. Cut in butter with pastry blender until the crumbly consistency of coarse meal. Sprinkle on top of plums. Bake 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degress.