Freshly Picked Plums, in the Kitchen, With a Cobbler
If you think the title of this post sounds vaguely like the end of a game of Clue, well, you’re right. So why would I reference a murder mystery game when I’m writing about plum cobbler? Well, because I somehow managed to convince myself that the plums might kill me, obviously…
See, when I first moved to Seattle, I was horrified to find that people would just pick blackberries off the bushes on the city sidewalks and pop them into their mouths. In New York, you NEVER (and I mean never) eat anything you find on the sidewalk.
So when I found out that Jeff had a beautiful plum tree on his patio, I was cautiously excited. Visions of sugar plums and home-dried prunes danced in my head … but I couldn’t shake a feeling of apprehension around eating anything that I picked myself.
The Fruits of My Labor
Rather than let the plums go to waste, I decided it was time to confront the tree head-on. The first thing I learned is that fruit trees are A LOT of work … especially when half-rotten fruit starts to fall to the ground, attracting flies and birds. After spending a good hour sweeping plums from the patio, I got to work picking fresh ones. I felt oddly satisfied (Look at me! Jersey girl picking plums!) until the neighbor came by and asked me if the plums were safe to eat. Hm.
Now, I’ve never heard of a poison plum. But did I really want to take chances? My deductive reasoning suggested they were safe … the patio was covered in seeds, left behind by the birds (who clearly weren’t dead). I did some research and found that the Early Italian Prune Tree thrives in Seattle, yielding fruit in early September. I got confirmation when I took the fruit to my local co-op, where I learned that my plum was in fact the Italian prune they were selling for $2.99 a pound. Score!
In an hour, I must’ve picked fruit off of 1/8 of the tree … several pounds worth of fruit, and not even a dent in the number of plums on the tree. So what’s a gal to do with a bounty of prunes, or any fresh fruit? Well, here’s my plan:
1.) Eat them fresh — and if you can’t eat them all, give them to friends and local food banks that accept fresh produce. Prunes aren’t just for old people!
2.) Make fruit desserts, like plum cobbler, plum tarts, or plum pudding. People don’t cook with plums enough anymore — these desserts are tastier than you could ever imagine, and ridiculously aromatic.
3.) Dehydrate them. Prunes are a delicious, healthy snack and they’re great in stuffings and tagines. You can also can or freeze homemade fruit chutneys, compotes, and preserves that’ll make great holiday gifts.
Just call me the Indian American Martha Stewart. But for now, I’m plum out of ideas. Happy eating!