Recently I was picking through a pile of prune plums at the grocery. A fellow customer asked what they were and how to use them.
A signal that autumn is approaching is the sight of prune plums in the market. Ripe and ready from May through October, September is the month the prune plums are plentiful.
Prune plums -- or Empress plums -- are a European plum noticeably different than other plums in the market distinguished by their smaller size, and oval rather than round shape. More dark blue than purple in color with a yellow-green interior, prune plums are a free stone (pit easily removed from flesh) fruit low in water content and high in sugar. Perfect for baking.
Follow the jump for more on prune plums and a recipe.
My Midwestern memories include my grandparents' plum tree. The prune plums hung in clusters, dark blue against the bright green leaves of the tree. In grandmother's kitchen, Prune plums appeared in kuchen (cake) and jam.
Don't limit their use to sweets; prune plums make a great base for chutneys and sauces pairing nicely with meat, poultry, and game. (see tips)
Optional - sprinkle with chopped nuts, top with 1/8-1/4 cup raw sugar mixed with ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Dot with butter pieces
Bake for 25 minutes
Serve with crème fresh or vanilla ice cream
Tips: substitute prune plums for the cherries in clafoutis, atop pastry crust and pastry cream on a tart, or combined with pears or peaches in chutney.
Always taste the fruit you use in baking to determine if the recipe needs to be adjusted for sweet-tart balance.