Friday, May 6, 2011
Harvest for this townie is often gleaning off the land. I know where wild blackberries are to be found and where old apple, plum, cherry, and pear trees grow in rural abandoned areas. I’ve memorized back alleys where ancient unharvested trees drop forgotten varieties and where the nicest raspberry bushes are.
Each year I fill my freezer with gleaned fruit for winter. But I never get around to using it all and by spring I’m scrambling to do something with it before the season begins again. However, by then I tend to forget important details. Like if the fruit was ripe.
So I made a plum crisp. A painfully tart and tannic plum crisp.
Dishboy Scott was visiting for dinner (as usual) and he looked at me with this horrible pucker on his face and said, “I think the crisp might need more sugar.”
“Really?” I said, just as I was taking a bite. “It’s not so bad.” Two bites later, “Crap, these are the plums we picked out at the blackberry area. The ones we tugged off the trees because we were too lazy to drive back when they were ready.”
Long story short. The crisp was so sour we gave up and I made another one. This time with my favorite canned Oregon Fruit. And oh man, it was so good. Perfectly sweet with lots of plum flavor and a crispy vanilla crust.
Half the benefit of canned Oregon Fruit is the heavy syrup it comes with. The syrup adds so much body to whatever I’m baking that I always adjust recipes to include some of it, as I’ve done with this crisp.
For when the actual ripe plums arrive, I’ve included a recipe adjustment for fresh fruit. This crisp also works well with peaches or pears. Ripe ones at least.
Oregon Fruit Vanilla Plum Crisp
If you don’t have vanilla sugar on hand, stir a teaspoon of vanilla extract into the filling.
3 (15 ounce) cans Oregon Fruit canned Plums
1/4 vanilla sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside a 1 1/2 quart baking dish or a 9 1/2” pie dish.
2. Strain the juice from 1 can of plums into a large bowl. Strain the other cans of plums and discard the juice.
3. Place the plums on a cutting board and gently slice out the pits. Cut plums into 3 to 4 pieces each. Place them in the large bowl.
4. In a small bowl, mix together the vanilla sugar and flour. Sprinkle over the plums. Drizzle with almond extract and gently toss to combine. Pour the plums into a baking dish.
5. Move on to topping.
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 quick oats
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1. Place the flour, oats, vanilla sugar and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Toss to combine. Drizzle with butter and stir just until crumbly. Use fingers if needed.
2. Sprinkle topping over crisp. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until bubbly and top is golden. If needed, broil the top for a few minutes to crisp the topping.
Fresh Plum Variation: Use 5 cups of pitted and quartered fresh plums and reduce the flour in the fruit to 1 tablespoon.
Peach or Pear Variation: Canned peaches or pears work well with this recipe. If using fresh fruit, measure out 5 cups of sliced fruit and reduce the flour in the fruit to 1 tablespoon.
Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.