My good friend and neighbor Eva gifted me with a load of plums from her tree. They were purple after washing, but were a delightful blue right after picking. I was excited to receive these, of course, as our Santa Rosa plum provided fruit in late spring/early summer and we hadn't had plums since. But this bounty of late-summer plums raised some questions: Why were Eva's plums ripe for harvest so much later than mine?
This led me down a reserach hole where I learned quite a bit about the difference between Italian plums and Asian plums. I'm still not entirely clear on it all. But one thing that is clear is that Asian plums, which is the kind most of us grow, and eat fresh, are available from spring to late summer, depending on the variety. My Santa Rosa plums shouldn't have been ready until August, but we were eating them in May, which is weird (though we often have things ripen earlier or later than other folks; for instance, our peaches and apples are always ready before anyone else's). Anyway, I have no idea what kind of plum this is that Eva grows, but it's probably Asian. Italian plums are more oblong, while Asian plums are rounder.
European plums are more suitable for drying, due to their low-water content, but I still wanted to give drying a try. I sliced the plums up into thin wedges, put them on a cookie sheet with a baking rack (my usual method for drying), and put them outside in the sun.
They spent three days in the sun (I bring them in at night so they don't get eaten by nighttime critters), and at the end of this period they were delicious. Still pretty moist, but with a very high sugar content and satisfying chewiness. I decided to stop the drying process at that point so I could use them for school snacks, but if I wanted to keep them for long-term storage, I would have left them out in the sun another three days at least. You could add these, chopped, to oatmeal, quick breads, or cookies. You could reconstitute them in the winter and make a dessert. Or, you can just inhale them plain, which is what I am doing.
But I still had a large bowlful of plums, which we ate fresh, of course, but today I noticed they were starting to soften and go south. So I decided to make a plum clafoutis.
Clafoutis is a French dessert, traditionally made with cherries (with the pits still IN, if you can believe it). It's basically fruit placed in a buttered dish and covered with a custard batter and baked; then served with a dusting of powdered sugar and maybe a little cream. You can do this with almost any fruit. Tom and I made rhubarb clafoutis back at the Apple Farm in 2016, and it was delicious. You can add a little more sugar if you're using something like rhubarb (and the rhubarb needs to be sautéed first, if I remember correctly; something like apples would probably need a little cooking beforehand, too). But with sweet in-season stone fruits, little sugar is needed. It's a great way to use up extra eggs, too. And because it's so eggy and fruity, you can totally justify eating it for breakfast.
The great thing about clafoutis is that it is totally unfussy and very easy to make. It's a one-bowl dessert. You don't even need to get out the mixer. I love that. Also, late summer just seems made for fruity desserts.
This recipe is adapted from Christopher Kimball of America's Test Kitchen.
You'll need 3-6 plums, depending on the size, 3 large eggs, 1/3 C sugar, 1 C whole milk, 1-1/2 t vanilla, a pinch of salt, 1/2 C AP flour, and powdered sugar for serving.
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9-inch cake or pie pan. (Clafoutis is traditionally made in a cast iron skillet, so if you have one, use that.) Slice the plums and arrange them on the bottom, skin side down.
Whisk the eggs and sugar in a medium bowl for minute, until color lightens slightly. Add the milk, vanilla, and salt, and whisk to combine. Sprinkle the flour over the batter, and whisk until smooth. Pour the batter gently over the plums. You will likely dislodge them, no matter how carefully you do this; just do it as gently as possible.
Bake for 45-50 minutes (my oven always requires the full baking time). It will be puffy and golden at the edges. As it cools, it will deflate and settle. Serve it warm or at room temp, dusted with powdered sugar and perhaps a little cream.
What are your favorite ways to use up extra plums?