Plums are in season and we’ve been getting a lot of them through our CSA. These Damsons have that quintessential “prune” taste, so they become very rich when reduced to a preserve and do not need much sweetener.
Instead of the usual 2:1 ratio of fruit to sugar, I added a little blueberry juice (that’s whole organic blueberry juice, with no added sugar or preservatives) to get the plums going and to lend bit more depth of flavor, along with a touch of maple syrup.
Since I use very little sweetener and the fruit is quite juicy, I use kuzu to help set up the preserves, especially since plums are not particularly high in natural pectin. If you are not familiar with kuzu, it’s a starch that’s also known as Japanese arrowroot and it looks like a white clumpy powder. Kuzu is commonly used in macrobiotics for therapeutic purposes, including (but not limited to) the treatment of expansion headaches, upset stomach, blood circulation, skin disorders and fever. (Perhaps a post on kuzu remedies is in order…) It’s good stuff.
If you’re not suffering from any of these ailments, it’s still not a bad idea to put some kuzu in your homemade preserves, if nothing else for culinary purposes. Just be sure to make a slurry with the kuzu by dissolving it in a little water and then bring whatever fruit you’ve added it to to a boil, or else the kuzu won’t be able to work its magic.
If you can’t find kuzu or don’t want to wait to get it, reduce the preserve for a longer period of time over the heat. Regular arrowroot powder is an option as well, but the consistency will get stringy-gummy, which I don’t find appetizing at all.
I kept mine simple this time by leaving out any spices in order to let the vanilla stand out. In the past, however, I’ve made it warm and spicy by adding cinnamon, star anise and clove. See what suits you and feel free to play around with it. I imagine fresh ginger would be a nice addition as well.
Makes about 16 ounces
1 quart Damson plums, pitted and roughly chopped
1/3 cup good quality blueberry juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or half a vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon vodka, lemon juice or red wine vinegar
Optional Spices: 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 4 cloves
2 teaspoons kuzu + 2 teaspoons water
What to do:
Place all ingredients, except for kuzu, in a medium pot (heavy-bottomed is best) over medium-low heat.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to very low and simmer for 1 hour, until the plums have broken down and the liquid has reduced. Stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure there is no sticking to the pot.
Make a slurry with the kuzu by dissolving it in the 2 teaspoons of water. Add to simmering plums and mix thoroughly. Bring plums to a low boil and let continue for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until the liquid is thickened and reduced enough.
Remove from heat and let cool 10-15 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and/or star anise, if using, and pour cooked plums into blender and run until smooth.
Pour into a sterilized jar (or several small jars), seal and refrigerate.
Spread on toast, grain-free biscuits (as pictured) or dollop onto local grass-fed yogurt. Keeps for 2-3 weeks in refrigerator.
Rende circa 450ml
800 grammi di prugne Damson, snocciolate e tagliate a cubetti
90 ml di succo di mirtillo
1 cucchiaino di estratto di vaniglia o metà d’un baccello di vaniglia, dimezzato
1-2 cucchiai di sciroppo d’acero
1 cucchiaio di vodka, succo di limone fresco o aceto di vino rosso
Spezie Facoltative: 1 bastoncino di canella, 1 anice stellato, 4 chiodi di garofano
2 cucchiaini di kuzu (oppure di amido di mais) + 2 cucchiaini d’acqua
What to do:
Mettete tutti gli ingredienti (tranne il kuzu) in una pentola media (meglio una pesante) sul fuoco medio-basso.
Fate bollire la miscela e abbassate la fiamma quanto possibile e lasciate sobbollire per circa un’ora, finché le prugne non siano molle e il liquido sia abbasstanza ridotto. Girate circa ogni 15 minuti, stando attenti che le prugne non s’appiccichino al fondo della pentola.
Fate una malta fluida col kuzu ed i 2 cucchiaini d’acqua. Aggiungete alle prugne cotte e mescolate bene. Fate bollire lentamente per 5 minuti. Riducete la fiamma un’altro pò e lasciate sobbollire per altri 20-30 minuti, giusto per far addensare e ridurre abbastanza il liquido.
Togliete dal fornello caldo la pentola e lasciate raffreddare 10-15 minuti. Togliete il bastoncino di canella e l’anice stellato, se usando, e versate le prugne cotte in un frullatore e fate andare finché la consistenza non sia liscia.
Versate la conserva in un vasetto sterilizzato (o alcuni piccoli), chiudete e mettete in frigo.
Dura circa 2-3 settimane in frigo.