Waste not ... Plums Tom Hunt

The Guardian - Feast - - Feast -

Plums are an abun­dant sea­sonal crop with many va­ri­eties worth ex­plor­ing, among them damson, mirabelle, vic­to­ria and green­gages. If you find your­self with too many plums, cook them up in a num­ber of sim­ple desserts, from crum­ble to up­side­down cake. My favourite is also the eas­i­est: grid­dle plum halves and serve with whipped ri­cotta. They’re also great in savoury sal­ads, raw or grilled.

If the fruit is very ripe and soft, how­ever, try pre­serv­ing it in sugar in­stead. Jams, chut­neys and com­potes are a fine way to pre­serve any fruit glut – the sugar pro­tects it – and they keep for ages. Com­pote is made by boil­ing whole pieces of fruit in a spiced sugar syrup; it can then be served as a pud­ding, or with yo­ghurt and gra­nola for break­fast. Jam, on the other hand, is made by boil­ing fruit in its own juices with sugar and pectin, un­til it gels.

Plum ker­nels, like other soft fruits, have a de­li­cious, bit­ter al­mond flavour. But be­ware: they con­tain the com­pound amyg­dalin, which breaks down into the poi­son hy­dro­gen cyanide when in­gested. That said, ac­cord­ing to the Food Safety Haz­ard Guide­book (on the Royal So­ci­ety of Chem­istry web­site), hy­dro­gen cyanide is not heat sta­ble, so can­not sur­vive cook­ing.

Plum com­pote

In a small saucepan, bring 330ml wa­ter, 75g sugar, one star anise and a strip of cit­rus peel to a boil. Add about 250g halved and stoned plums and sim­mer gen­tly for three min­utes. Re­move from the heat and store in a ster­ilised jar. (The same treat­ment can also be ap­plied to other fruits.)

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