Earlier this week, I made fruit crisp with plums.
I have made Plum Torte for teatime (recipe link: https://happygourmand.wordpress.com/recipe-archives/plum-torte/ ). I have dehydrated approximately ten kilos of assorted plums from our trees. And I have hardly made a difference in what still hangs on our trees.
We have three plum trees in our yard, each one different and all of them delicious. The Italian plums are sweet and tasty, and the damson plums are wonderful as prunes. The other tree bears greengage plums, or as my Hubbie knows them in French, “Reine Claudes”. They make fantastic jam for cheese, and also a special chutney we call “Pork Jam”.
The greengage plum is an old variety that was developed in France, and apparently taken to England in the 1700s by a Rev. John Gage, who found them at the Chartreuse Monastery. Perhaps that helped in their English name. These plums are truly halfway between green and yellow in colour, the definition of chartreuse.
Greengages found their way to the colonies in America shortly after arriving in England and were in the gardens of American presidents Washington and Jefferson, but then their popularity declined.
They do grow true from seed however, making them a bit like an heirloom plant. Perhaps that is part of why they have never disappeared.
Of course, here at Rabbit Hollow, their unique history and lack of popularity just makes them even more endearing. We love helping people discover new flavours by sharing what we make.
Greengages are known for being one of the best dessert plums, and so they make delicious jams and compotes, as well as crisps, crumbles and the like. I have dried them and used them in Christmas pudding, too. But the true inspiration was when my husband Martin decided to create “Pork Jam” as an accompaniment for smoked and grilled meats.
It’s the season of the harvest. When Mother Nature gives you so much to play with, it seems only fitting to get creative to use it all. Combining fruits with peppers, onions, spices and herbs can inspire new combinations of dishes for a meal. And preserves make a great hostess gift, too.
I like the idea of having a sort of safety deposit box in the pantry, full of all kinds of flavours that can be pulled out in the dead of winter to bring back the sunshine and warmth of summer.
If you aren’t the type to make your own preserves, watch for those sparkling jars at the farmers’ markets and bring one home to enjoy.
I remember once finding a jar of “Toe Jam” at a small market in Salmon Arm. It tasted a lot like raspberry, but much better. It tasted like inspiration.
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