Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Plums, Passion and Pudding

Our Czar Plum tree is festooned with fruit this year and I have a fantastic crop of plums. Czar Plums are traditional culinary plums, a lovely blue / black colour and have yellow insides. They originated in Hertfordshire in 1871 thanks to one family's passion for fruit growing. The Rivers family came to Sawbridgeworth in 1725 and established a nursery there – it's said to be Britain's oldest Nursery and is still run today by volunteers.

Much of the River's family's business was providing plants and trees for great houses with estate gardens. Successive generations of the family introduced some familar plants we have in our gardens today - the standard rose being one of them. The family bred more than 75 new varieties of apple, peach, nectarine, plum, cherry, apricot and pear as well as publishing books on the topic. They developed the Conference Pear and went on to supply Charles Darwin with an almond and peach trees for his garden. The Czar Plum was raised from a cross between Prince Englebert and Rivers Early Prolific Plums. As the Russian Emperor was on a visit to the UK at the time the variety was named 'Czar' in his honour.

Although Plum jam is my favourite you can only make so much of it so I have been looking for alternative ways of using them up. Plums and chocolate go really well together, in the same way that black cherries and chocolate do (I'm thinking of Black Forest Gateau!). You can also use Plums to make cheesecakes, ice creams, tarts, mousse and to moisten cakes.

I've found a lovely Romanian recipe that uses Plum mousse in layers with chocolate cake
here but have opted to make a Plum Flummery. It's light and easy to make – just right for late Summer days.

Flummery is an old British pudding that was popular in the 17th – 19th centuries. They were traditionally made with oat meal and flummeries still use it today although gelatine has taken its place in many modern recipes.

Plum and Almond Flummery

500g (1 lb) plums, stoned and sliced
1 tbsp water
2 leaves of gelatin
120ml hot water
120g caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
120ml evaporated milk
couple of drops of almond essence
flaked almonds to garnish
sliced plums to garnish

Put the plums and a tbsp of water in a saucepan and simmer for 5 – 10 mins until they are soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Dissolve the gelatin in a cup of hot water and stir into the cooled plums. Add the sugar, lemon juice and almond essence. Stir well until the gelatin and sugar have dissolved. Chill the mixture in the fridge until it starts to thicken. Whip the evaporated milk in a bowl until thick and then fold into the plum mixture. Whip the mixture until it is fluffy and then chill for a few hours before serving. Garnish with plum slices and flaked almonds.

Recommended Wine:

A glass of pink fizz! Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir and is a pale salmon pink in colour with shades of rose petals. With a bouquet of red and black currants, cherry and quince this is a lovely wine. In the mouth it is expressive, well balanced and refreshing with a dense, very fine mousse lasting to the very last sip in the glass. It is a super aperitif but is also great with desserts!


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