I love to pick, eat, and preserve fruits of all kinds. Most summers you'll find us in an orchard or berry patch at least once a week. I am fortunate to have a neighbor who sells fruit from his brother's orchard near South Haven. When he has an over-abundance he starts sending it down to my house with the boys. That is how I ended up with a few freezer bags full of plums. I don't care for fresh plums. I find their skins bitter. (Stop yelling at me, plum lovers.) So I tossed them in the freezer with absolutely no idea what I would eventually do with them.

Well. Last summer was for the most part a bust for those of us who like to pick fruit, so it goes without saying that I'm scraping the bottom of my larder fruit-wise. Lo and behold, the lowly plum. Sigh.

I came up with a recipe for plums that produces a luscious and sweet-tangy sauce, with nary a skin in sight.

Sweet Summer Plum Sauce

4 cups of plums, halved, washed and pitted
1 cup of sugar
6 cardamom pods
1 stick of cinnamon
6 whole cloves
6 allspice berries
black pepper
salt

Toss the whole lot in a heavy pan and bring it to a simmer, adding a little water if necessary. Simmer for 30 minutes. After this, I leave the pot to sit at room temperature, overnight if possible. This does something to cooked fruit, like allowing some of the moisture to move back into the fruit. I also think that it gives time for the whole spices to imbue more of their flavor into the sauce.

ANYWAY, press the lovely, spiced, syrupy plums through a food mill or a sieve. Scrape the pulp from the bottom of your sieve into the plum syrup.

Now, how to use this gorgeous condiment! This morning Anthony and I stirred it into warm oatmeal. I'm betting it would be delicious with plain or vanilla yogurt. Or over vanilla ice cream. Or pound cake. To make the sauce more savory add balsamic or rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger. Then use it as a base for a barbecue sauce, or even a glaze for chicken wings or tiny Asian ribs. Or use it as dip for fried chicken fingers or shrimp.



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