February isn’t exactly a fruit harvest. Our produce isles transition up here and heartier vegetables take over most of the shelves and bins. Berries sky rocket in price and the few apples, pears and peaches are grown out of the country or forceably, out of season. For some reason my greens obsession subsided for the hour I was at Cronig’s last week, and all I could do was stare at the basket of plums. I felt all of them, and they were rock hard. Well, one was tender, but only because It had fallen into a box of mangos and i’m sure that wasn’t its first tumble.
I just couldn’t walk away. The purple, scarlet flecked skin, so plump and perfectly round. Against the woven brown basket, they looked like a still life painting. I decided to take three home and figure out what to do with them in the morning.
Reaching for some homemade yogurt for breakfast, I remembered the plums. I cut into one and was sadly reassured that indeed, they weren’t ripe. Before I had time to pout about how sad my perfectly tart yogurt would be without a sweet counterpart, I had a flash of my favorite stewed pears from The Smile. Simmered in sugar with a heap of orange zest and probably a few shavings of ginger, they were my favorite summer snack. I think I trekked to Bond Street twice a week in late summer, just for those soft, aromatic pears.
1/2 cup brown sugar
, when most recipes called for atleast a cup. I was afraid of making them too sweet and losing any plumy nuances (and they were in there!). Stewing fruit seems to be up to interpretation, with vanilla beans, anise, lemons, honey and a myriad of other ingredients to choose from. I stuck to what I remembered of The Smile’s fruit, and what was already in the cabinets. I was in sweatpants, chin deep in Valentine’s projects and a blog post, and had no interest in leaving to go shop.
1 tbsp. of orange zest
felt like enough for simmering, and I saved about
1 tsp. for garnish
at the end. Without ginger, I used
a dash or two of clove
, which aren’t as spicy but have the same warming effect. I added
1/2 cup of water to the sugar
, or just enough to cover half or three-quarters of your fruit. It’s a balance of steaming and low-boiling to bring out the flavor of your fruit. I covered them while on a
and kept peaking and poking, to make sure they weren’t falling apart. when the skins no longer resist fork prongs, they are good to go.
By the time I finished making (and photographing) my plums, I had polished off the previous nights roasted vegetables and a huge piece of naan, so I saved them for later. I knew their syrup was just as valuable as the fruit itself, so I ladled it into a separate container as to not turn the plums to mush.
Woah, were they good
I ate some on homemade vanilla ice cream, on yogurt the next day and with ricotta cheese on toasted baguette the following morning. I drizzled each serving with the remaining liquid, and when the plums were all et? That raspberry colored, gooey deliciousness became pancake syrup. Ah-mazing.