Currabinny Cooks: Juicy plums work for both sweet and savoury dishes

Currabinny Cooks: Juicy plums work for both sweet and savoury dishes
Pictures: Bríd O'Donovan

Plums are a wonderful autumn fruit, useful for all sorts of recipes both sweet and savoury. In Ireland we are blessed with wonderfully sweet plums.

There should be a huge glut of them at this time of year in the greengrocers, supermarkets and farmers markets.

Even better if you are lucky enough to own a plum tree yourself. Other types of wild plums can be foraged in hedgerows all over the countryside, like damsons and bullaces.

More exotic varieties are also being imported like greengages, mirabelles and little yellow Italian plums.

Of all of the stone fruit, plums are the sweetest, juiciest, stickiest and also probably the ones which work best in savoury dishes as well as sweet.

We are lucky in our local greengrocers that they usually have a large variety of different types of plums but if you just have the local supermarket or shop to rely on then all these recipes can be made with regular plums (usually ‘Victoria’).

The Damson jam would need to be adapted slightly and you will get a slightly less deep flavour but the same rules generally apply.

Damsons are becoming easier to pick up these days and if all else fails you can always go out and do a bit of foraging.

Greengages are slightly more firm and tart than other plum varieties so they work brilliantly with the super sweet custard in the clafoutis.

Plum and Rocket Salad with Salty Blue Cheese

Currabinny Cooks: Juicy plums work for both sweet and savoury dishes

This salad is uncomplicated and wonderfully simple. It doesn’t need anything more than what it already has.

Sweetness and tartness from the plums, bitter peppery notes from the rocket and the salty tang of hard blue veined goats cheese.

The addition of almonds adds texture and a certain mellow creaminess which helps to bring everything together.

Instead of any dressing this salad benefits again from a more minimal approach with just a little lemon juice, good olive oil, salt and black pepper.

A salad of very good things brought loosely but harmoniously together.

10 - 12 Irish plums

Juice of half a lemon

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

85-100g of rocket

100g of salty hard blue cheese like Boyne Valley Blue

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

A drizzle of good honey

A handful of organic Almonds

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Place the almonds in a small pan of boiling water for one minute.

Drain and rinse with cold water before gently squeezing them out of their skins. Leave to dry off completely.

Place the blanched almonds on a baking stray lined with parchment paper.

Leave in the oven for 10-15 minutes, moving them around once. Remove from the oven and roughly chop.

Using a small sharp fruit knife, go about halving the plums and removing their stones.

Depending on their size you can either leave them as halves or quarter them.

Place the rocket in a large bowl and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and drizzle in the olive oil.

Season with salt and black pepper and toss through with your hands.

Place the rocket in your serving bowl or platter, arrange the plums throughout.

Shave the hard blue cheese over the salad, scatter over the almonds, check for seasoning and drizzle a little honey on top.

Greengage Clafoutis

Currabinny Cooks: Juicy plums work for both sweet and savoury dishes

This recipe is adapted from a great recipe by the London chef Jeremy Lee.

It is our go to autumnal dessert whenever we come across lovely little greengages in our local organic greengrocers.

This recipe works great for greengages but will be perfect also if you use little yellow Italian plums or small French ‘mirabelles’.

If you can’t find any of these more exotic types then use as small a bunch of plums as you can find, prunes could also work.

Clafoutis is a type of dessert where you essentially pour a custard over fruit and bake it in the oven.

It is best eaten straight away out of the oven with fresh cream.

500g greengages

250ml of milk

100g caster sugar

3 organic eggs

½ tsp of vanilla bean paste

A pinch of salt

65g plain flour

Fresh cream to serve

Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Halve the greengages and take the stones out.

Put the milk, 65g of the caster sugar, vanilla bean paste, salt and flour into a large jug.

Either use a whisk to vigorously combine the ingredients until frothy or better still use a stick blender.

Get a large heavy based with frying pan with a metal handle that can go in the oven and butter it.

Pour the batter into the frying pan until it reaches around 2cm of depth.

Heat over a medium heat on the stove top for around 2 minutes until the batter has formed a film underneath and along the sides.

Remove from the heat and place the greengage halves into the batter all around leaving a little space around each one.

Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top and then pour over the remaining batter.

Place in the oven and bake for around 45 minutes to an hour until the batter has puffed up and turning golden to brown all over.

Serve warm out of the oven with a little fresh cream.

Damson Jam

This recipe makes around four regular jam jars

Currabinny Cooks: Juicy plums work for both sweet and savoury dishes

Damsons are a type of small plum with very dark blue skin and yellow flesh. They grow on large shrubs or small trees.

They can be picked up until late October and are extremely useful for all sorts of autumnal baking and jam making.

This damson jam recipe is super easy and straight forward.

Damsons have enough pectin in them naturally without you having to add any in the form of jam sugar or lemon juice.

We love to pair this with cheese, but it also works great simply on crusty bread or as a filling for cakes and scones.

900g of Damsons

900g of golden granulated sugar

Knob of butter

Rinse the damsons under cold water and remove any stems, leaves or dirt.

Sterilise your jam jars in a low oven, dishwasher or by boiling them in a large pot, do the same with the lids.

It can be difficult toremove the stones from damsons as the flesh clings to stones.

Cut them lengthways and twist, using the knife to lever out the stone.

You can also leave the stones in and sieve them out after cooking, although this will give you a differenttexture.

Place the Damsons in a large, wide, heavy-based saucepan or frying pan.

Add 150ml of cold water and bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the fruit is soft.

Add the sugar and stir over a low heat untildissolved. Raise the heat to high and bring the mixtureto a rolling boil for 10minutes.

You need the mixture to reach a setting point of 105C before stirring it.

You can test the setting of the jam by putting a little on a cold saucer, after a few minutes push with your finger and if it wrinkles, then the jam is ready.

Remove from the heat when the jam is ready and skim off any scum that has risen to the top.

Add a knob of butter and stir through, leave for 15 minutes before decanting into your sterilised jam jars.

Label and seal.

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