I am sure that many of you are aware of Tastespotting, a site that serves to display pictures submitted by other websites; and these are not just ANY pictures–these are pictures selected to meet a certain aesthetic, and they are absolutely beautiful. For those of you not familiar with this resource, you can link with it here: Tastespotting
Anyway, on to the plums….this being the season for plums and all, the pictures on Tastespotting that featured recipes using this fruit continued to catch my eye, and I finally gave in to two items in particular: Sweet and Sour Plums with Vanilla and Bay Leaf (a kind of pickled plum) and Brown Butter Plum Cake. (Tastespotting has a search tool–enter the word “plum” and you should be able to find pictures of each of these.) I picked up a half bushel of the lovelies from our local fruit vendor (much more cost effective in bulk!) and carried them home to be transformed: First, the sweet and sour plums…
Well, I found I needed my daughter’s help with this recipe, because when I clicked on the picture, it took me to a lovely website, Hedonistin Blogspot, but all was in German. Having had French in school, I can usually wrangle some degree of meaning from French and even Spanish language texts, but German is beyond me. Fortunately, my daughter spent her senior year of high school Germany and is proficient enough in the language that she was able to help me out with this. As a result, I now have two gallons of these plums chilling nicely in my refrigerator, the result of putting together four batches over the last two days. They are simple to put together, absolutely delicious, with a nice spicy bite from the vinegar and the grated fresh ginger in the syrup. We had some with vanilla ice cream, and the combination was delicious.
Here, with Christina’s help, is the recipe as translated from the Hedonistin site:
SWEET AND SOUR PLUMS
750 ml vinegar (I’m guessing white distilled)
250 g. sugar ( about 9 oz., a little over a cup)
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded (if you have no vanilla bean, add a little vanilla to the syrup before pouring over plums at the end
3-4 laurel leaves (bay leaves), fresh (I only had the dried version)
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated
Have two quart jars or four pint jars clean and sterilized, with either plastic lids or rings and lids if you prefer. These can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 months; no instructions were given for sealing for longer storage.
Simmer the vinegar with the sugar and spices in an enameled or stainless steel pan (they suggest putting the ginger bay leaves in a tea-ball or infuser, but I put them directly in the syrup). Wash and dry the plums, and then pierce the skin all around with the point of a paring knife (5 or 6 pokes seemed to do it).
Lay the plums next to each other evenly in the vinegar- the fruit shouldn’t lay over each other, and poach the plums for a few minutes, making sure that the skins don’t burst (the skins will burst a little bit, but the slower the simmer, the less they burst). Get them out with a slotted spoon, drain well, and put into a jar. When all the plums are cooked, continue to cook the liquid for 10 minutes (reduce).
Pour the vinegar reduction over the plums making sure they are completely covered, and they should keep for 3-4months in the fridge. I kept the bay leaves and vanilla beans in the jars as well…I like the way it looks, and I think it should only help the flavor intensify. We’ll see! One of these jars will be going to Christina when we visit at Thanksgiving–it’s the least I can do for my very own translator!
Tomorrow I will share with you the my version of the recipe for Brown Butter Plum Cake…tonight, I will just eat some!