Ingredients

Plum

Other Names: Prune (France).

General Description: The plum (Prunus domestica) is a stone fruit with green, yellow, red, blue, purple, or almost black skin and firm, juicy, tart flesh. Plums were known by the ancient Egyptians, Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans, but the earliest cultivation took place in China. They can be as small as a cherry or as large as a baseball, and round, elongated, or heart-shaped. The flavor of a good, ripe plum has a sweet-tart balance. Since medieval times the English word “prune” has meant a dried extra-sweet variety of plum. In France the fresh fruit is called prune and the dried fruit is pruneau.

European plums, including damson, greengage, Mirabelle, Quetsche, and Italian prune, are small and firm, often having yellow-gold flesh. They are generally less sweet than other plum varieties and are used frequently in jams, jellies, and liqueurs. Asian plums, including Burbank, El Dorado, Elephant Heart, Santa Rosa, Wickson, Mariposa, and Satsuma, now dominate in California. Of these, the Santa Rosa and Satsuma are the most popular varieties, the former having amber flesh tinged red and the latter having dark red flesh.

Other varieties of plum include the Agen, used only for prunes, the Angelino, with purple skin and yellow flesh, the Black Amber, with shiny black skin and deep red flesh, the Casselman, a late-season plum with bright red skin and deep amber flesh, the Emerald Beaut, with light green skin and greenish yellow flesh, the Friar plum, with black skin and amber flesh, the Golden Nectar, with yellow skin and amber flesh and a small pit, the heart-shaped Kelsey, with green-yellow skin, the Laroda, with dark red-purple skin and reddish flesh, the Nubiana, shiny black with deep amber flesh, the Red Beauty, with tart red-purple skin and sweet amber flesh, the Redheart, with maroon skin and blood-red flesh, and the Simka, a purple plum with amber flesh.

Season: California plums are available June through September. Chilean plums are available January through March.

Purchase: Look for plump, shapely fruit that is well colored and firm to the touch, without cracks or blemishes.

Avoid: Pass up plums that are either too soft or too hard.

Storage: Ripen at room temperature till the skin loses its shine. Once ripe, refrigerate for up to 4 or 5 days.

Preparation:

  1. Wash gently.
  2. Slice in half around the pit and rotate the halves to separate. Discard the pit.

Serving Suggestions: Top pastry with almond frangipane and thinly sliced plums, then bake till set and plums are juicy. Combine thin-sliced plums, red onion, and olive oil with balsamic vinegar, arugula, and fried strips of prosciutto.

Serving Suggestions: Allspice, black pepper, brandy, cardamom, cinnamon, crème fraîche, ginger, honey, nutmeg, orange, port wine, red wine, sour cream, white wine, yogurt.

from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com