23 Jul 2006

Have a Plum Sunday

Plums come in hundreds of varieties and they vary in size, colour and taste. They are wonderful raw, cooked and dried (prunes).

They are an excellent source of vitamin C, B2, A and K, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and fiber. The phenols in plums are excellent anti-oxidents. Plums are free of sodium and cholesterol and low in calories.

They are known to combat fluid retention. Plus the skin of a plum stimulates bowel movement which is why stewed prunes are quite popular for children and the elderly. To avoid this problem, peel the plum before eating.

A warning for people with untreated kidney or gall bladder problems. Plums contain oxalates and therefore should be eaten with caution or totally avoided.

When purchasing make sure that the skin is not split or wrinkled. Can be ripened at home in a paper bag. They are ripe when they have a bit of give at the stalk end. Once ripe they can be stored for a few days in the fridge. Always eat at room temperature when they are their juiciest.

Try the many sweet varieties juiced (do not forget to remove the stone first), added to veg and fruit salads, as toppings on flans, waffles and soy yogurt. There are also many ways to use the more tart varieties in chutneys, jams and puddings. Why not also try the new hybrid, the plumcot (plum-apricot) as they are said to be wonderful.

"An umeboshi plum is a little Japanese salt plum. The best thing for motion sickness is to take one of these plums . . . and tape it to your belly button. I'm not kidding you. " Marilu Henner

Recipes of the Day

Plum Pudding
from Vegans in Paradise

1/2 cup (120 ml) macadamia nuts
4 dried apricots
3 plums
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Blend until smooth and creamy, then serve.

Plum Crumble with Ginger Date Syrup
from Vegan-Food

1 cup plain white flour
1 cup plain wholemeal flour
1 cup jumbo oats
1 1/2 cups soft brown sugar
Approx. 200 g / 7 oz vegan margarine
2 lb / 1 kg or approx. 12 plums
Handful of dates, chopped
Thumb-sized chunk of ginger, peeled and grated

1. To make syrup, place 1/2 cup of the sugar in a pan, with the ginger, dates and 1/2 cup water. Bring to the boil, stirring in the sugar until it dissolves. Cover, and set aside.
2. Mix the flour and oats together in a bowl. Chop the marg into chunx and rub into the oat mixture. You will know if you have the right amount, as the mixture should resemble breadcrumbs. If it still looks 'floury', add more marg. Stir in the rest of the brown sugar.
3. Slice the plums thinly, then arrange in a thick layer at the bottom of a baking tray. Pour syrup over the top, then top with crumble mixture. (I divide the ingredients between 2 baking trays, and freeze one for future use at this point).
4. Splash top with a little water, then bake in a hot oven (200C/390F/gas 6) for 35-40 mins.

Makes 4 generous (6 smaller) portions, or 2x 2 generous (3 smaller) portions. Freezes well.

Vegan Plum Dumplings
from recipes4us

1kg/2.2lb Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp of salt
120ml/4fl.oz. Maple Syrup
150g/6oz Whole Wheat Flour
4 Ripe Plums
Vegetable Oil
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1. Place the potatoes in a large pan of salted water . Bring to the boil then cook for 20 minutes or until very soft. Drain well, reserving the cooking liquid for use later in the recipe, then return to the pan and mash until quite smooth - do not mash too much. Allow to cool.
2. Add the maple syrup to the mashed potato and mix well then slowly add the flour to make a dough that's not too thick, but not too sticky either.
3. Cut the plums into quarters, removing the stones (16 pieces in all).
4. Divide the dough into 16 portions and flatten each portion with your hand on a floured worksurface. Place a piece of fruit in centre of each dough portion, gather up the edges to seal then roll each portion into ball, completely encasing each piece of fruit. Repeat process to make 16 dumplings.
5. Bring potato water that was set aside earlier back to a boil in a very large saucepan, with extra water if necessary to 3/4 fill the pan. Add the oil.
6. Drop 8 of the dumplings carefully into the boiling water, keeping it at a rolling boil, and cook until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm whist you cook the remainder of the dumplings.
7. To serve - Sprinkle the dumplings with cinnamon and serve warm.

Dried Plum Butter

2 cups (480 ml) dried apple slices
12 pitted prunes
18 pitted dates
1 cup (240 ml) water
1/2 cup (120 ml) water

1. Combine the apple slices, prunes, dates and the 1 cup (240 ml) of water in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Cover and bring it to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to low, and steam for 10 minutes.
2. Transfer the cooked fruits, liquid and all, to a food processor. Add the remaining water a little at a time while pureeing to desired consistency.
3. Store the "butter" in a covered container in the refrigerator where it will keep for 2 to 3 weeks. Makes about 3 cups (720 ml).

Fruited Bulgur and Lentil Salad
from Vegetarian Times
This light version of the classic Middle Eastern bulgur salad, or tabbouleh, has a delicious and healthful twist: the addition of dried fruits and red lentils. It’s good warm or cold. The recipe makes enough for a great light dinner one night plus lunch-to-go the next day. Add wheat crackers and some shredded lettuce or cabbage if you like.

1 cup medium bulgur
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped dried plums or dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
3 tbsps. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
3 tbsps pine nuts, toasted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Bring 1 1/2 cups lightly salted water to a boil in large saucepan. Stir in bulgur. Remove pan from heat, cover and let stand 30 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff bulgur with fork, transfer to bowl and let cool.
2. Meanwhile, combine lentils in saucepan with enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Heat over medium heat, and cook until lentils are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold running water and drain well.
3. Add lentils, carrots, dried plums, apricots, parsley, mint, lemon juice, oil and pine nuts to bulgur, and toss to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serves 6



KleoPatra said...

Plums! Very wonderful fruit. Reminds me of summer, along with nectarines. But i have always adored plums most. How do you feel about them dried... as prunes??!! Prunes have such a bad "reputation" and yet they are wonderful as well. Thanks for the info, recipes and post, Jackie!

Jackie said...

I like prunes if they are still soft and not totally dried out.