Plums, greengages and damsons
I have a small Victoria plum tree in my garden in Suffolk, and I love eating them straight from the tree in late summer, giving them a faint squeeze to see which ones are fully ripe, then eating just a few each day for breakfast and lunch until they’re all gone.
There are several other varieties of home-grown plums, all suitable for cooking or eating raw when fully ripe.
Greengages, because of their colour, are deceptive – they can look unripe and forbidding but taste very sweet. I like to cook both greengages and plums in a compote of Marsala wine.
Damsons are my favourite members of the plum family. The true damson is small and oval, almost almond-shaped, with dark indigo-purple skin, covered in a soft bloom and bright-green, sharp-sour flesh that when cooked with sugar, produces darker, reddish-purple juice. The secret of the damson’s utter charm is that because it’s a sharp fruit its flavour is not killed by sugar, so damson jam remains perfectly tart and not over-sweet.
Predominantly fruit, this is a healthy summery dessert to serve to dieters who often feel they miss out on the pudding front. You can use any fruit combination you like - the lemon grass adds a subtle and intriguing element.
Make these a month before Christmas and you'll receive plenty of compliments when serving them with cheese and cold cuts. Or why not make up some batches as gifts for food-loving friends?
This recipe is a wonderful way to ring the changes from the ubiquitous plum crumble in late summer when plums are at their peak. Serve this with cream or ice cream for real indulgence.
A lovely versatile fruity dessert that can be made ahead for stress-free entertaining. Serve the sauce warm or cooled: either way this is a sensation for autumn and winter.
Marsala has a wonderful depth when cooked with fruit or, indeed, any other ingredient. Serve this luscious dessert with rice pudding and other creamy puddings - or simply on its own.