Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Late September and the plums are still plentiful

I love plums. We had an Italian prune plum tree in our backyard when I was growing up, and my most vivid memory of any first day of school was always the warm, sticky, gently bruised plums at the bottom of my brown paper bag. Yuck. OK, granted, not a good way to sing the praises of this fruit, but they were never intended to travel around in a thin, paper sack! Instead, they should be plucked off the tree or out of the fridge and eaten standing up or, better, lying flat on your back on the grass.

They are a lovely mix of sweet and tart, between the slightly honeyed flesh and the squint-provoking skin. This year, the plums we bought at Cherry Lane Farms, a local source here in Richmond, are the best I have ever had. So sweet and flavourful, not a watery one in the box. I have processed most of the 40 pounds into stewed fruit, frozen flat in freezer bags and stacked now in both freezers. The rest are tucked away in my fridge's crisper - they will ripen quickly if left at room temperature - once they are starting to soften they are sweet and should be stored in a cooler spot.

So what are plums doing on a cancer recipe blog? Well, funny you should ask. These little puppies are powerful good at fixing a whole bunch that ails you. They are high in vitamin C, helping your body both ward off infection and absorb iron. They also contain vitamin A and beta carotene, vital for a healthy body and good eyesight. Even more relevant for us, in recent years they have also been linked by some studies (here and here) to cancer prevention, including breast and gastrointestinal. The skin contains the same powerful antioxidants as blueberries, so wash but don't peel them. Do I also need to remind you about their fibre content? Any of you going through chemo right now need to remember this if you are having any, um, bathroom issues.

I urge you to get some before they are gone. I am off this weekend for another big box! And when you get sick of eating them raw, here are some inspiring recipes for adding plums to your diet.
  1.  Grilled plum porridge from Butterfly Food's Ashley Colbourne via Style At Home.
  2. Roasted plums with Greek yogurt, honey, and almonds. Two peas & their pod.
  3. Spicy plum salsa for serving alongside grilled salmon, prawns or chicken. Martha Stewart.
  4. Roasted plum and spinach salad. So pretty. Chatelaine.
  5. Plum, beet and arugula salad. Lots of cancer fighters here, especially with the addition of walnuts or switching in watercress for the arugula. Best Health.
  6. Stone fruit slaw. Ginger, vinegar, curry, red pepper and firm stone fruit. Earlier in the summer, try peaches or nectarines. But right now, use slightly under ripe Italian prune plums. Bon Appetit.
  7. Roasted pork loin with poached plums. For our meat eaters. Epicurious.
  8. My stewed plums. Easy. Just halve and pit many plums and put them with a little water in a heavy bottomed, large pot over medium heat. Sometimes, I add chopped apples, especially firm ones that don't fall apart - they add nice texture to the finished sauce. Stir to prevent the fruit from sticking and burning, and continue to cook until the plums are soft. I usually add raisins part way through the cooking process, and they plump up nicely from the warm juice. I also add a splash of vanilla and cinnamon to taste, near the end of cooking time. Taste before adding sugar - this year the fruit were so sweet I added NO SUGAR. Serve warm or cold, lovely with warm toast. This freezes beautifully. Bunny loves them for breakfast with a bit of toast on the side. 
Have a great week.

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