Plum tasty

Though not the most pop­u­lar stone fruit, the colorful orbs have plenty to of­fer

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - Cin­na­mon-Roasted Plums With French Toast KELLY BRANT

When it comes to stone fruits, it seems peaches and cher­ries get all the at­ten­tion.

Per­haps the plum’s de­hy­drated cousin is to blame, be­cause, after all, prunes do have cer­tain con­no­ta­tions as­so­ci­ated with their con­sump­tion. (For the record, all prunes are plums, but not all plums are prunes.)

But fresh plums and dried plums are com­pletely dif­fer­ent fruits in terms of fla­vor.

Fresh plums are juicy, re­fresh­ingly sweet and a lit­tle bit tart — es­pe­cially if you eat them un­peeled. Dried plums, on the other hand, are sweeter, with a heav­ier fla­vor.

Fresh plums are avail­able from May to Oc­to­ber. Though plum trees can be grown al­most ev­ery­where in America, California, Idaho, Michi­gan, Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton pro­duce most of the U.S. crop.

Plums fall into two ba­sic cat­e­gories: Euro­pean and Ja­panese. Prune plums are al­most ex­clu­sively of the Euro­pean va­ri­ety, as Ja­panese plums are gen­er­ally not suit­able for dry­ing. The plum is be­lieved to be one of the ear­li­est fruit trees cul­ti­vated/do­mes­ti­cated, with Euro­pean plums trac­ing to the Cau­ca­sus moun­tains near the Caspian sea at least 2,000 years ago. Ja­panese plums were cul­ti­vated in China for sev­eral thou­sand years be­fore spread­ing to Ja­pan a few hun­dred years ago.

Plums range in size from as small as a wal­nut to as large as a bil­liard ball, and in skin col­ors in­clud­ing yel­low, green, blue, pink and even deep black­ish pur­ple. The flesh can be am­ber, green, golden or crim­son.

There are dozens of plum va­ri­eties, al­though most gro­cery store shop­pers are likely to en­counter just a cou­ple — most no­tably red plums and black plums.

We’re par­tic­u­larly fond of the scar­let-fleshed black­skinned plums, but feel free to use any va­ri­ety in the fol­low­ing recipes.

Spiced rum en­hances the fla­vor of ripe plums in this jam. Plums have am­ple pectin, so no ad­di­tional pectin is needed in this recipe. Just be sure to cook the mix­ture to the jelling point.

Plum Rum Jam

2 ½ pounds plums, pit­ted and

diced, but not peeled

2 cups gran­u­lated sugar 3 ta­ble­spoons bot­tled lemon

juice

2 ta­ble­spoons spiced rum

In a wide, large pot, com­bine the diced plums, sugar and lemon juice. Toss to com­bine; cover and let mac­er­ate for 30 min­utes to 12 hours (or re­frig­er­ate in an air­tight con­tainer for sev­eral days).

Pre­pare jars and lids for water-bath can­ning. For de­tailed, step-by-step in­struc­tions on pre­par­ing a boil­ing water can­ner, can­ning jars and lids, visit tinyurl.com/mn­q9tsv.

Bring the plum mix­ture to a boil over medium-high heat, stir­ring of­ten. Boil hard, stir­ring of­ten, un­til mix­ture reaches jelling point — 220 de­grees on a candy ther­mome­ter at sea level — this could take as long as 30 min­utes. If you don’t have a ther­mome­ter, re­move the pot from the heat, the mix­ture should sheet off the spoon. To test the mix­ture, pour a tea­spoon or so onto a chilled plate and place it in the freezer for 2 min­utes. After 2 min­utes, nudge the mix­ture with your fin­ger, if it wrin­kles it’s ready.

Let the hot mix­ture stand 5 min­utes, then care­fully stir in the rum. The mix­ture may sputter.

La­dle jam into the pre­pared jars, leav­ing ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Cen­ter lids on rims. Screw on bands un­til fin­ger-tip tight. (Fin­ger-tip tight is only as tight as you can get it us­ing just your fin­ger­tips.) Place jars in can­ner, add water to cover jars by 1-inch and process for 10 min­utes. Re­move jars to towel-lined counter and let stand undis­turbed 12 to 24 hours.

Test seals by press­ing the cen­ter of each lid. If it flexes, the lid did not seal. Re­frig­er­ate any un­sealed jars im­me­di­ately. Sealed jars will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 18 months.

Makes about 5 half-pints.

Cin­na­mon-Roasted Plums With French Toast

4 plums, halved and pit­ted 2 ta­ble­spoons brown sugar 1 tea­spoon ground cin­na­mon 2 ta­ble­spoons but­ter, cut into 4

pieces

4 eggs

¼ cup milk

Pinch salt

8 slices day-old bread Maple syrup, honey or con­fec­tion­ers’ sugar, for serv­ing

Plain or vanilla yo­gurt, for

serv­ing

Heat oven to 350 de­grees. Line a rimmed bak­ing sheet with foil. Ar­range plums, cut side up on bak­ing sheet.

In a small bowl, mix sugar

Plum Sor­bet

and cin­na­mon. Sprin­kle mix­ture over plums. Top each plum half with a dot of but­ter. Roast 15 to 20 min­utes, or un­til soft­ened.

Whisk the eggs, milk and salt. Dip bread, mak­ing sure to coat both sides, in egg-milk mix­ture. Heat a knob of but­ter in a large skil­let and swirl to coat. Add bread and cook 3 to 4 min­utes on each side, or un­til well browned. You may need to do this in batches de­pend­ing on the size of the skil­let and bread. Serve im­me­di­ately with warm plums and some maple syrup, honey or con­fec­tion­ers’ sugar and a dol­lop of yo­gurt.

Makes 4 serv­ings.

Recipe adapted from Harvest: 180 Recipes Through the Sea­sons

cu­rated and il­lus­trated by Em­i­lie Guelpa (Hardie Grant)

This Ger­man-style plum cake is a late summer/early fall sta­ple. It com­bines moist cake, fresh plums and a streusel top­ping.

Pflau­menkuchen (Plum Cake)

1 ¼ cups all-pur­pose flour

¼ cup almond meal/flour 2 tea­spoons bak­ing pow­der ¼ tea­spoon salt

½ cup veg­etable oil

½ cup sour cream

1 ta­ble­spoon freshly grated or­ange zest (I use a Mi­croplane-brand zester) ¼ cup freshly squeezed or­ange juice (can sub­sti­tute 2 ta­ble­spoons or­ange liqueur for half of the juice)

1 egg

1 tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract

1 cup gran­u­lated sugar About 4 fresh plums, halved, pit­ted and cut length­wise into eighths

Top­ping:

¼ cup all-pur­pose flour

¼ cup almond meal/flour 1 tea­spoon ground cin­na­mon ¼ cup brown sugar 4 ta­ble­spoons but­ter, cut into

small cubes

Heat oven to 350 de­grees. Line the bot­tom of an 8- or 10-inch spring­form pan with parch­ment paper. Coat sides with but­ter. Set aside.

In a large bowl, com­bine the flour, almond meal, bak­ing pow­der and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk to­gether the oil, sour cream, or­ange zest and juice, or­ange liqueur (if us­ing), egg and vanilla. Mix in sugar. Add wet mix­ture to dry, whisk­ing just un­til no white streaks re­main. Pour bat­ter into the pre­pared pan. Ar­range plums in a spoke pat­tern on top of bat­ter.

In a small bowl, com­bine flour, almond meal, cin­na­mon and brown sugar. Us­ing your fin­gers, rub in but­ter.

Sprin­kle mix­ture over plums. Bake on cen­ter rack un­til a wooden pick in­serted near the cen­ter comes out clean. Bak­ing time will vary de­pend­ing on the size of the pan. Our 8-inch cake took about 1 hour 15 min­utes. Recipe adapted from wiveswith­knives.net

For this recipe you’ll want very ripe, juicy plums. This sauce is de­li­cious with chicken or pork. We es­pe­cially en­joyed it as an ap­pe­tizer poured over a block of cream cheese served with crackers.

Plum Chipo­tle Sauce

15 to 20 large very ripe plums,

pit­ted

1 ta­ble­spoon bot­tled lemon

juice

4 cloves gar­lic, peeled and

pressed or minced

1 medium onion, diced 3 ta­ble­spoons chopped chipo­tle pep­per in adobo, more or less to taste

6 cups gran­u­lated sugar

½ cup ap­ple cider vine­gar 7 tea­spoons fine salt

Us­ing a food mill, con­i­cal strainer or your hands and a colan­der set over a large bowl, ex­tract the juice from the plums to make 8 cups thick juice. Dis­card spent pulp and skin. Stir in the lemon juice.

In a medium saucepan, com­bine ¾ cup of the plum juice, the gar­lic and onion. Bring to a boil, re­duce heat and sim­mer un­til onion is ten­der and translu­cent.

In a large saucepan, com­bine the sim­mered onion mix­ture, the re­main­ing juice, the chipo­tle, sugar, vine­gar and salt. Stir well to com­bine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stir­ring to dis­solve sugar, then re­duce heat and sim­mer for 1 ½ hours, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally to pre­vent scorch­ing. Skim off foam as nec­es­sary.

Mean­while, pre­pare jars and lids for water-bath can­ning. For de­tailed, step-by-step in­struc­tions on pre­par­ing a boil­ing water can­ner, can­ning jars and lids, visit tinyurl.com/ mn­q9tsv.

La­dle sauce into the pre­pared jars, leav­ing ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Cen­ter lids on rims. Screw on bands un­til fin­ger-tip tight. (Fin­ger-tip tight is only as tight as you can get it us­ing just your fin­ger­tips with the jar sit­ting on the counter.) Place jars in can­ner, add water to cover jars by 1-inch and process 15 min­utes. Re­move jars to towel-lined counter and let stand undis­turbed 12 to 24 hours.

Test seals by press­ing the cen­ter of each lid. If it flexes, the lid did not seal. Re­frig­er­ate any un­sealed jars im­me­di­ately. Sealed jars will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 18 months.

Makes about 4 pints.

Plum Sor­bet

1 ½ pounds ripe plums, halved

and pit­ted

1 tea­spoon lemon juice ¾ cup PLUS 2 ta­ble­spoons

gran­u­lated sugar ¼ tea­spoon almond ex­tract 2 tea­spoons brandy, creme de

cas­sis OR kirsch, op­tional

Cut plums into ½-inch pieces. Place chopped plums in a medium saucepan. Sprin­kle with lemon juice and ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil, re­duce heat and sim­mer 15 min­utes, stir­ring of­ten, or un­til fruit is very soft.

Trans­fer mix­ture to a food pro­ces­sor and puree un­til smooth. You should have roughly 2⅓ cups puree.

In a small saucepan, com­bine the sugar and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil, stir­ring to dis­solve sugar.

Com­bine plum puree, sugar syrup, almond ex­tract and brandy (if us­ing) in a large pitcher or bowl, cover and re­frig­er­ate 8 to 24 hours.

Freeze in an ice-cream maker, ac­cord­ing to man­u­fac­turer in­struc­tions. Trans­fer to a freezer con­tainer and freeze for at least 4 hours be­fore serv­ing.

Makes 1 gen­er­ous quart. Recipe adapted from Ja­panese Farm Food by Nancy Sin­gle­ton Hachisu Almond and plum come to­gether in these tea cakes.

Plum Tea Cakes

¾ cup all-pur­pose flour

¼ cup almond flour/meal ½ tea­spoon bak­ing pow­der ¼ tea­spoon bak­ing soda

¼ cup salted but­ter, soft­ened ¾ cup gran­u­lated sugar

1 egg

¼ tea­spoon almond ex­tract ½ cup but­ter­milk

4 to 6 plums, pit­ted and cut into

eighths Con­fec­tion­ers’ sugar

Heat oven to 350 de­grees. But­ter and lightly flour 6 (4-inch) cake pans. Or use dis­pos­able paper bak­ing pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk to­gether the flour, almond flour, bak­ing pow­der and bak­ing soda.

In a sep­a­rate bowl, beat but­ter and sugar un­til light and fluffy. Beat in egg and almond ex­tract. Add flour mix­ture in two ad­di­tions, al­ter­nat­ing with but­ter­milk; mix­ing just un­til no dry streaks re­main.

Di­vide bat­ter among the 6 pans. Top bat­ter with sliced plums. Bake 20 to 25 min­utes or un­til lightly browned and springy to the touch.

Cool com­pletely. Dust with con­fec­tion­ers’ sugar just be­fore serv­ing.

Makes 6 tea cakes.

Recipe adapted from Eats: En­joy All the Sec­onds — 135 Colour­ful Recipes to Savour & Save by Mary Rolph La­mon­tagne

Food styling/KELLY BRANT Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/THOMAS METTHE

Pflau­menkuchen, Ger­man-style plum cake, com­bines moist cake, fresh plums and a streusel top­ping.

Food styling/KELLY BRANT Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/THOMAS METTHE

Food styling/KELLY BRANT Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/THOMAS METTHE

Food styling/KELLY BRANT Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/THOMAS METTHE

Plum Chipo­tle Sauce on a block of cream cheese makes a de­li­cious ap­pe­tizer.

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