Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A bounty of plums

Plums, corn, shell beans, winter squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers and the trailing summer vegetables have consumed my days and nights in the last few months. I remember my brother going to Novosibirsk Russia in 1996 to study migratory birds. He and his family arrived in late August just as the harvest was beginning in earnest. In the end his research lagged behind his expectations simply because the of the amount of harvesting, storage and putting by his colleagues and their families did in Russia in the fall.

I understand. One night, I pitted tens of pounds of Pozegaca plums. The Pozegaca plum is a German prune plum. It is of medium size with a slight belly perfect for cupping in your palm. It has a deep yellow to orange flesh and a thickish skin that makes a distinctive crunch when you bite through. It is both sweet and tangy with a firm flesh that cooks well without breaking down.

I sat and pitted- thank god for free stones- and began drying and freezing and soaking. Times like these I appreciate a little creativity and so it began. I filled a gallon glass jar with pozegaca halves, covered it with white wine vinegar and let it sit for a month. I strained the plums out and was left with a beautiful deep rich plum vinegar and many tart fleshy vinegared plums. Inspired, I dried them and last week, I popped them in a pot of chicken with vinegar and shallots. I doubt I'll waste them on a cake. I'll try not to eat to many out of hand. I've sketched a recipe for them to adorn pork.

This notion of using something over and again has captivated me this season. Last week I needed to pull the lovely Mirabelles out of their grappa bath and let everyone re-harmonize. Once again, the bowl of "leftover" plums were still too perfect to compost. I made a light lavender syrup and canned the plums (hot pack). Come January I'll open a jar of grappa soaked plums in lavender syrup and raise a glass of plum induced grappa. I love the idea of taking two ingredients, putting them together and then taking them apart and having two new and improved ingredients to build upon. wow.

A bowl, a glass, a stew, a tart, a cake for you.