Sunday, June 23, 2013

Plum purty

With some good things, there's always going to be too much of it. That's the way it is if you have a backyard fruit tree.

We have an ancient red plum tree. It has been our regular habit to travel during the last days of June or the first weeks of July, so usually we miss harvesting its fruit - we urge the neighbors to help themselves. One year, our eccentric housecleaners, worse than the birds and raccoons, made off with every single fruit before our neighbors even had a crack at it.

This year we are staying home, and are able to enjoy a bumper crop.

Although a perfectly ripe plum, warm from the sun, is a rare piece of heaven, we still have to fight the critters for them - maddeningly, they wait until the fruit is perfect, and then they take chunks out of them, or knock them off the tree.

You can harvest plums just before they're at their peak. I gently squeeze the fruit to see if it gives under my touch, and I give it just the slightest twist on its stem. If it falls off into my hand, it's mine. If it resists, I leave it till next time. And if any of the drops on the ground are unbroken, I'll take them, too.

 If you let them sit out on the counter for a day or two, they'll ripen fully.

So what can you do with a bumper crop? Just eat them, sweet and delicious, right?

Chopped, sweetened with sugar till they release their juices, it makes a great compote to serve over ice cream or in yogurt, with Grape Nuts.

Here's an open faced plum tart, with cinnamon-spiced custard.

I'm hoping to make some jam or preserves next week, and I'm looking for some thing more complicated - a chutney, perhaps.

But how about a cocktail? Here's a tasty Plum Smash:

6 ripe red plums
A handful of fresh thyme sprigs (to taste)
2 oz lemon juice
2 oz simple syrup (you could also probably use Agave nectar)
6 - 7 oz bourbon

Cut the fruit off the stones (my plums are not freestone) and put in the bottom of a sturdy cocktail shaker, along with the thyme. Muddle the fruit and herbs, then add the rest of the ingredients and ice, and shake.

Strain - because the fruit is so thick, we couldn't use the little strainer on our cocktail shaker, but strained it through a sieve over a measuring cup.

Serve over ice in small glasses, garnished with a sprig of thyme. This amount makes two drinks, with a bit left over to top off each glass.

The plum nectar looks golden in the glass, and the tart fruit goes perfectly with the rich caramel taste of bourbon. Cheers!


Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

That is a beautiful drink!
You truly know how to dress a cocktail.


Yes. This certainly is the year of the plum. It's tough to eat all this fresh fruit. But it's a nice problem to have.

Yours in regularity - Maybelline

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

Yes please! (that's to the tart, the cocktail, the extra fruit...)