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Ingredient of the week: the humble plum

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05 AUGUST 2010

Describing the flavour of a ripe plum is a very tricky thing as they vary so hugely depending on their variety, colour and origin. You’ll eat purple ones - the flesh the colour of a red grape - deep purple and tinged reddish pink at the edges, sweet and juicy. Then you may find a variety that look like the colour of a baby’s skin flushed with deep pink lines, the inside the colour of vibrant peachy roses that taste sweet and sour all at once. Greengages are a relative which make the most exquisite of jams – and one you don’t see too often. In fact, the whole plum family make brilliant jam. Just go lightly with the sugar as this will give a little welcome tartness to your preserve.

Dried they become prunes – a fantastic accompaniment to roast meat like pork, dick or rabbit, braised in red wine or port. Despite the negative connotations they have come to stand for (and the reason they are now being marketed in the US as ‘dried plums’) these are delicious and worth another look. Try them poached in a little spiced syrup with other dried fruit like apricots to have with your porridge or as an accompaniment to poached pears.

The damson, the most distinguished of fruits in the eyes of our resident foodie (link to a blog about damons), is a close relative. The plum was originally eaten by the Chinese but has spread throughout nearly every food culture in some form or other.

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