Plums

The food authority Waverly Root cites the plum as “one of the world’s most luscious fruits”. Indeed when juicy and ripe a fresh plum is a thing of culinary perfection. Plums are incredibly versatile and make the most stunning compotes which can be used as a base for tasty sauces, ice-creams, or accompaniments to both sweet and savoury foods. Duck roasted and served with plum sauce, plum compote with fresh vanilla ice-cream, or tangy plum compote served with a strong blue cheese — heaven.

There are a great many varieties of plum available and the colours of the plum can be as stunning as the taste of the fruit, ranging from deep blue through to bright purple and the all the way to vibrant yellow. Plums are closely related to cherries, so close in fact that a cherry could almost be categorised as a small plum.

Plums have been cultivated for thousands of years but virtually all the plums we see today are the result of crossing three species being the European plum (P domestica ), American plum (P americana ), and Japanese plum (P salicina ). It should also be noted the Japanese plum is originally a native of China, but was improved by the Japanese. The name plum in the Middle Ages was often a source of confusion as the plum was the name donated to almost all dried fruit — this included raisins, hence the name plum pudding which we nowadays call Christmas pudding.

To make a tasty plum pie simply follow the recipe below.

For the filling

1kg ripe plums with the stones removed and chopped into medium sized chunks.

400 grams granulated sugar.

Place the plums and sugar into a thick based pot and allow to gently stew until very tender. Place aside and allow cool.

Shortcrust pastry

Sift 225g plain flour into a bowl and stir in a pinch of salt.

Add 50g chilled butter and 50g lard, cut into small pieces.

Lightly rub into the flour until you gain a breadcrumblike texture.

Sprinkle three tablespoons of cold water over the mixture then use a tablespoon to mix the mixture.

The mixture will form into clumps; press these together by hand to form a ball.

Allow the pastry to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Butter and then lightly flour a baking flan tin.

Roll out the pastry and line the flan tin with the pastry then bake blind for 10 minutes in the oven at 180°C. Fill the pastry with the plum compote.

For a crumble topping to the pie

50g flour

25g butter

25g brown sugar

Blend ingredients together in a food processor and spread over the top of the pie and bake for about 10 minutes or till golden in a moderately hot oven.

Serve with vanilla ice-cream and enjoy.

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