Before coming to Europe, I thought that a plum was a plum was a plum. Boy was I wrong. Thanks to the wonderful varieties of produce available, I’ve learned that there are different types of strawberries, peaches, and beautiful plums. Plums can be as black as charcoal, reddish, purple, or even green and yellow. Round like little ping pong balls, or oblong like a football (an American football, that is). Not only do all these varieties look different, but they have their own unique tastes and flavors too. Each week this summer we decided to pick up a fruit that neither of us have had before, and buy some to see what we think. So far the results have been quite tasty, and by tasting so many different types of produce we certainly never get tired of any one fruit!
But if I had to pick one stone fruit to have in my kitchen at all times, it would be these little green guys, the reine claude. Frankly, it took quite a bit of bribing for my husband to allow me to set some aside, not to be eaten. We can go through a kilo a day of these plums, they are as sweet as candy. I knew they would just make a perfect plum butter, and I wouldn’t have to do much to them flavor or sweetness-wise.
The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Now I did cheat on this challenge. I didn’t do any canning or freezing. I don’t own a canning kit, and am not sure I’m ready to invest in a big pot & jars & lids & tongs etc. unless I know this is something I’m going to be doing a lot of. Given that we don’t have a CSA or a garden where we have tons of produce trying to figure out what to do with it, I’m not sure how applicable canning really is in our day to day Summer lives. According to our host the recipe I did probably wouldn’t be that suitable for canning anyways, because it wasn’t acidic enough to hold up safely over the long term. He suggested freezing instead. If we had leftovers, I probably would have frozen some, but how can one resist sweet plum butter? If you are curious about making fruit butters and canning, I highly urge you to check out the pdf on the Daring Kitchen site. There is a wealth of information I can’t even begin to condense neatly in a blog post.
So no freezing, no canning. I just made the butter, let it cool, and then we gorged ourselves on it for the next few days. I even baked a tarte/cake using the plum butter (and yet another tasty variety of plums). Unfortunately, while the cake was quite pretty…the taste was not. Totally over dried out, because I didn’t have the right pan and so had to bake it longer to cook the inside, making the rest way too done. My husband still said he liked it, and some whipped cream definitely helped a bit. But then, my husband is really nice to me, especially when something flops.
Yeah, I won’t even bother sharing the recipe on that one. It’s ok, the plum butter came out great. That’s something I can share with you. And if you ever see little green ping pong sized plums in the store or a market, be sure to pick some up. Because they are the freaking best plums in the world.
1 kilo reine claude plums, pitted and quartered
1/2 c. green tea
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbs. ground ginger
2 tbs. sugar of your choice (I used coconut sugar)
1. Add plums and tea to a pot and cook on med/med-low until the fruit has cooked down in volume (about an hour).
2. Purée, and return to the pot. Add in cinnamon, ginger, and sugar.
3. Continue to cook on low heat, just simmering, until done (for me, another good hour). Fruit butter is done when it holds its shape after cooling, and no separation occurs.
4. Remove cinnamon stick and pour finished plum butter into storage container. If canning. freezing, etc., this is the time to follow the appropriate preservation directions depending on your method. If you are just eating it (within a week or so), enjoy however you like!