Plums are usually the last of the summer stone fruit crops and they are also one of the most versatile. They can be used in virtually all recipes where nectarines, peaches and apricots are specified, plus they have many sweet and savoury uses of their own. Plum jam, plum sauce, stewed plums, cakes, tarts and puddings just to name a few.
They are at their best in late summer and early autumn. Choose firm ripe fruit with some give. Ripe fruit needs to be eaten as soon as possible, so unless you plan to cook with them immediately it’s better to buy fruit that is a little firm. Choose plums with a whitish bloom to show minimum handling.
Store at room temperature for 2–3 days. Check fruit regularly as plums will ripen overnight in hot temperatures. Ripe fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for 2–3 days. Plums require little preparation before cooking except to be cut in half and stones removed, if preferred. They rarely discolour so can be prepared well in advance.
Plums tend to be full-flavoured and have a close texture, which means they will keep their shape well when gently cooked. Plum varieties do differ a lot in terms of sweetness and juiciness, so as a general rule use sweeter ones for eating and less sweet for cooking.
Tasting the fruit for sweetness, texture and juiciness will be your best guide to its best uses. Most common are the blood plums, with juicy ones notorious for staining hands and clothes. Labelling of other varieties is fairly rare except in specialist fruit and vegetable shops. These stores will also offer your best opportunity for varieties such as green gage and dansoms. Plums come in a host of sizes with some as small as cherries and others as big as an apple.
Serve stewed plums for breakfast with yoghurt and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg.
Sprinkle plums with ground cinnamon, ginger and sugar, and roast until tender to serve alongside grilled pork chops. Roast or stew plums then freeze; in cooler months use to make crumble and steamed puddings. Or try making plum jam.
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Seafood: Atlantic salmon, barramundi, bream, crabs, coral trout, flathead, mullet, marron, mussels, ocean trout, prawns, rock lobster, scallops
Cheese: buffalo mozzarella, mature farmhouse cheddar
Content provided by Allan Campion and Michele Curtis www.campionandcurtis.com.