Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour

Relishing Plums

Plum pie was a once upon a season treat at our house when I was a kid. Mom used to buy a box of plums each fall and a bowlful would be left on the kitchen counter for eating at will, enough were saved for the annual juicy, red plum pie and the rest went into jars, canned as a sauce that served as dessert during the winter. When the sauce was served with a cookie on the side or with heavy cream it became very special.

It seems strange, but plums with red or purple-blue skins always get tarter and livelier when they are cooked. Prune plums (the oval shaped plum, also called Italian or French) are downright bland raw and only good when the toes have touched the fire.

Clever as mother was I don't remember ever seeing the beautiful fruit used as a condiment. But, that doesn't mean that other folks weren't looking at the colorful orbs with one eye and at meat or poultry with the other. Here are some ways of using plums that you may never have considered. Please do.

Plum Catsup

Serve as you would tomato catsup, with meats, poultry, and fish. This is a small recipe. When making ahead cover and store in refrigerator.

1/2 pound firm-ripe red-skin plums
1 pound Roma tomatoes, or another firm fleshed variety
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger, or 2 teaspoons powdered
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 cup chicken broth

Rinse plums and tomatoes. Pit plums and cut into chunks. Core tomatoes and cut into chunks. In a blender or food processor, puree plums, tomatoes, and ginger. In a frying pan over high heat, combine puree, onion, brown sugar, soy sauce, and broth. Stir often until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes should do it. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Quick Plum Preserves

Especially good served with chicken or pork.

2 pounds firm-ripe red, black or prune plums
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick, or 1 teaspoon ground

Wash and dry the fruit, removing stems; cut in half, remove pits and coarsely chop. Stir plums, sugar, water and cinnamon together in heavy saucepan. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally (more often to prevent sticking as it thickens). When thickened and reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, remove from heat. This takes 45 minutes to 1 hour depending upon juiciness of the plums. Discard cinnamon stick and cool preserves. Transfer to airtight container, cover and refrigerate. Keeps chilled about 1 month. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Spicy Pickled Plums

This recipe can also be made using small apricots and even small peaches or nectarines. Very good served with pork, chicken or lamb. Leave skins on the plums, you can remove them before serving if you prefer. After cooking taste the syrup and if it isn't hot enough.

To tickle your tongue add chili powder.

2 pounds firm-ripe red or black plums
2 cups water
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups red wine vinegar
3 dried chilies or 1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
3 whole star anise
1 piece (3-inch) fresh ginger, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices

Slit skin of each plum lengthwise from top to bottom with a sharp paring knife evenly around plum in 4 to 6 places, then put in jars. Bring water to a boil with remaining ingredients, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Immediately pour pickling liquid over plums. Cool, uncovered, then chill, covered, at least 1 day. They will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 month. Makes 8 servings.

Red Wine Plum Relish

A lively accent for simply cooked meats or poultry and very good served with curry or on a ham sandwich. You can even put some in yogurt for breakfast. Now that is true versatility.

2 teaspoons grated orange peel
2 cups orange juice
2 cups dry red wine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 pounds firm to ripe prune plums

In a frying pan combine all ingredients except the fruit. Boil over high heat until reduced to about 1 cup, around 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse plums and cut into chunks; discard the pits. Add plums to the reduced sauce and simmer, stirring often, until fruit is very soft, about 25 minutes. Taste and add more sugar if desired, then simmer 2 or 3 minutes more. Serve this hot or cold.

Store covered in the refrigerator. Makes 3 cups.

Colorful Plum Salsa

Use a variety of colorful plums and serve with grilled chicken, fish or pork.

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 cups plums, washed, pitted and diced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; toss well. Let stand 30 minutes. Makes 4 cups.

Plums are just plum good!

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