Plum Tuckered Out

by Dave on August 22, 2009

by Andy Meddick

I’m still staring at a bowl of black and red plums I brought home from work a week ago. I got over-zealous with my grocery shopping and good intentions now sit ripening on my counter-top! With Mid July we’re in the middle of Plum season. Plums are very abundant and continue well into September. What to do with all those plums?

I’ve never been a fan of plums as a snack food, they’re just too messy. Plums, however, are great in cooking. So, I put on my big boy pants, suck it up and get all the messy work over with at once. I hit the kitchen with a bowl of prepped plums and clean hands!

There are over 2,000 varieties of plum worldwide, 100 of which are grown in the USA, 50 varieties alone in Northern California. Plum season extends from mid-May with the Black Splendor (large with black skin and bright red flesh), through July for varieties such as Dolly (large, heart-shaped yellow plum) and into August for late varieties such as the Greengage (small, oblong, sweet, and green – excellent for jam). Finishing up the season are the September varieties such as John W. and Autumn Beaut. These late varieties are heavy with sweetness and very, very juicy.

Plums pack in the nutrition. One serving is two plums: 70 calories, and no fat, cholesterol or sodium. The skin provides some fiber, and about 10 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, and 8 percent of vitamin A.

Always choose organic plums, or plums from a source you trust that has not sprayed. Plums have very thin skin, which absorb pesticides easily.

Here are some recipes for plums that scale up from just a couple of plums for early season right up to a mess of plums that are fast ripening beyond snacking point, as happens by the time we reach mid-season:
Tangy Plum Barbecue Sauce & Plum Syrup
(source www.recipezaar.com) Serves 10

Ingredients:

* 3 lbs red plums (bruised and overly ripe are best!)
* 1-2 cup raw sugar
* 1-2 habanero peppers (any sweet, spicy pepper will do), seeded with the pith removed
* 1-2 tablespoon sea salt
* 1 medium red onion
* 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions for Syrup:

* Pit plums and toss into a saucepan.
* Add sugar (less at first, you can add more later). If it’s dry add a little water. Simmer on low-heat for 15-20 minutes.
* Let cool.
* Scoop mixture into a colander rested inside a large bowl. Strain mixture and pour into bottles. Do not clean the colander (see BBQ sauce).
* Keep refrigerated for up to one month.

Directions for BBQ Sauce:

* Slice the onion and caramelize in a little oil.
* Take the plum solids that are left behind in the colander and combine with the caramelized onions, habaneros and salt in the blender. Blend till smooth.
* Use the sauce on pork ribs, tofu or anywhere!

Red, White & Blue Pizza
(source www.recipezaar.com) Serves 4

An appetizer or dessert pizza combining sweet with piquant. Made on your outdoor grill, so be sure the racks are as clean as possible. Practice it now and perfect it ready for Labor Day cookouts.

Ingredients:

* 1 lb pizza dough
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 white nectarine, pitted
* 1 red plum, pitted
* 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
* 3 tablespoons honey (agave nectar is a good sub)
* 3/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
* 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
* snipped fresh chives
* oil, to brush on grill grates

Directions:

* Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat.
* Divide pizza dough into 4 equal balls and roll each out on lightly floured surface to make 6” circles.
* Place dough circles on a baking sheet. Brush both sides with oil.
* Remove dough from baking sheet and grill a few minutes on each side until dough is cooked through with light grill marks.
* Remove crusts and cool.
* Slice fruit into 8 slices each.
* Oil the grates of your grill with a barbeque brush and cook fruit a few minutes on each side to lightly brown.
* Remove fruit from the grill and arrange fruit on the pizza crusts.
* Stir together vinegar and honey and drizzle on the fruit.
* Sprinkle the pizzas with blue cheese and walnuts.
* Place pizzas back on grill and close the lid to melt the cheese. Watch closely!
* Sprinkle with chives, allow to cool slightly and slice into appetizer size slices.

Spicy Roast Plums (source Diabetic Living)
Serves 6

A delicious dessert eaten on its own, used as an ice-cream topper, or baked into a tart. Try also as a dip, or marinade for pork. Omit the cumin if too spicy.

Ingredients:

* 6 medium red plums
* 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice or apple juice
* 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (divided)
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
* 1/8 teaspoon cumin
* 1 pinch nutmeg
* 1/3 cup light sour cream
* 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
* cooking spray

Directions:

* Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a two-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
* Cut plums in half, and remove pits. Place in baking pan cut side up.
* Combine juice, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and spices in a bowl. Drizzle spiced juice over the plums.
* Bake the fruit for 20 minutes or until tender. .
* While the fruit is baking, toast the almonds in a dry non-stick skillet. Just until the nuts just begin to release their aroma and take on a bit of color.
* In a bowl combine the sour cream with the last tablespoon of brown sugar.
* Place plum halves in a serving bowl. Dot with sour cream and sprinkle of almonds.

Until next week Tree Huggers, remember, hugs not drugs. Andy for Good For You Market.

This column first appeared in Coastal Sussex Weekly, July 16, 2009.

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