Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When Life Gives You Plums

I was not expecting such a bounty. We have two small plum trees in our garden, planted by our landlord; one was planted about four years ago, the other, just two. Though young, both were covered with small plums this summer. We had been gathering small bowls full as they ripened--just enough to snack on, really--but, the other day I noticed that most of the plums were ripe so asked Artist Son to take out a bowl and pick the rest of the tree. An hour later, helped by a ladder and Tayta, he delivered four large bowls of plums to my kitchen table.

I had never done anything with sweet plums but eat them fresh--that seemed the best use of them and I'd never before had very many at a time. It was Tayta who encouraged me that we could "do something" with them. "Plum cobbler and jam!" she suggested. She did a little searching online and once I realized we wouldn't need to peel them I was ready to begin processing plums--really, very easy. One of the first things we admired was their lovely colors. You don't notice those so much when you are biting into them rather than cutting them.

Our small plum halves and thirds seemed just the right size to use in a the Strawberry Summer Cake recipe below, so we did. I think we like the plum version best--just the perfect tartness. We've made (and eaten) two of these so far.

Plum Summer Cake

And, who knew that plum jam was so delicious?! We found out. PBJs are in renewed demand at our house and we've already eaten nearly two pints of the 20 I canned this week. (I used Sure-Jell Premium Fruit Pectin for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes. Cook jam recipes are included in the box.)

Plum Cobbler

Finally, we made a giant plum cobbler to enjoy with company on Tuesday, and I'll cobble the rest of the harvest tomorrow. This was our first ever plum cobbler and it was delicious! In the picture it looks similar to the cake, but there is a lot more syrupy fruit at the bottom. All the years I've lived in Jordan, the dessert I've most missed is blackberry cobbler. Plum cobbler is a very good and even close substitute. I only wish I had discovered it 20 years ago. This cobbler served 12.

Plum Cobbler for Company

10 cups fresh plums, pitted and sliced
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the prepared plums and mix gently. Place the fruit mixture in a large baking dish--I used a deep 9 inch X 13 inch pan.

1/2 cup sugar
3 cups flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs

Combine sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk and egg until just moistened. Drop the batter by spoonfuls on the plums. Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees F, making sure the batter, especially in the middle, is done. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Delicious! But then I'm very partial to baked fruit desserts.


Jodi said...

This post reminds me of a favorite childrens' book that we read as a family when our children were young. It was simply entitled "Jam", and it was a hilarious story of a family who has a plum tree in their back yard. The book was published in the UK. I really should do a book search and see if I can find it for my grandkids. Your cake and jam look yummy.

jlt said...

When my boys were very little, we had a plum tree in our backyard. When the plums ripened, the boys discovered them and started eating far too many. I made my first batch of plum jam that year in order to use up as many as possible to keep the boys from getting them when they were playing outside. It was such a success that plum jam is a yearly tradition now, even though we no longer have a plum tree and I have to buy my plums at the farmer's market. It is delicious! Enjoy.

Woman of the House said...

Sounds yummy! I've never done much cooking with plums, but you're making me think maybe I should. There is some sort of fruit tree in our new backyard (apple, we're thinking). I'll have to think of what to do with it all once we know for sure what it is!

Quotidian Life said...

Jodi, "Jam" sounds like great book--is this it? (I love collecting good books for children!)

Joy, Since we are moving this summer, this will be our first and last plum harvest (lemons in the new yard) but it has already been decided that we will need to purchase plums for future batches of jam. I too have a childhood memory of climbing a friend's HUGE plum tree and sitting in, eating plum after plum for an entire afternoon. Those plums still remain the most delicious in my memory.

Martha, yes, do try the plum jam--you won't be sorry!

Pictoria said...

Great photos, Melissa! Wish I could snag some jam from you!