Plums and peaches with star anise and ginger

June 24, 2012 § 6 Comments

Peaches have long reigned supreme as my most anticipated summer fruit, but this June the tiny dusky purple plums at the farmers market have been stealthily taking over my kitchen fruit bowl. Almost more pit than fruit, the plums’ sweet fragrance and juicy flesh encased in astringent skin make them ridiculously easy to enjoy by the handful, with only the pits to stop one from inhaling the whole basket at once.



Really the two fruits aren’t — shouldn’t be — rivals; they go excellently together. So, as I didn’t want to use up all the tiny plums at once, and because I had a bruised peach to consume, I decided to cook the stone fruits together, basing my recipe on a recipe from Nigel Slater’s fantastic Ripe (or Tender Volume II as it is titled in the UK).

The sliced white peaches flatter the plums with their bright sweetness, whereas the sour-skinned plums add a bit of bite to the peaches. To them I added a bit of dark brown sugar for both sweetness and complexity, and then the recommended two star anise. Instead of the rather wintry-sounding cinnamon stick, I opted for a small piece of fresh ginger, which added a vigorous spiciness to the fruit and pairs well with the brightness of the star anise.


Not that fresh peaches and plums aren’t a delight, but I have to say, gently simmering them in the spices and sugar is worth the very minimal time – the peaches took on a blushing pink glow from the plum juices and softened in the heat, while the plums melted into jelly inside their gently wrinkled skin, its mouth-puckering sourness tamed by the heat and by the anise and ginger. Perfect served warm at any time, I also like the barely-cooked fruits folded into whipped cream for a quick fool, or, more virtuously, served over oatmeal for breakfast.

Peaches and plums with star anise and ginger

Loosely adapted from Ripe*

Serves one to two hungry persons per pound/500 grams fruit, or up to four if accompanying something else

Ingredients

  • 18 ounces/1.1 pounds/500 grams (approximate) peaches and plums (about two peaches and a handful of small plums, meaning the ones that are only slightly larger than cherries)
  • One tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • Four tablespoons water
  • Two star anise
  • A small thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled

1. Rinse and then shake dry the fruit. Chop up any larger fruits, in this case the peaches, and remove the pits. Smaller fruits, such as the petite plums I used, can (should) be left whole.

2. In a saucepan or pot large enough to hold the fruit, combine the dark brown sugar, salt, and water along with the star anise and ginger. (I recommend skewering the ginger with a toothpick so as to mark it for easy removal after cooking; it really resembles a piece of peach.) Toss in the fruit and cook over medium high heat until steam appears alongside some gentle bubbling; turn down the heat to medium low and let simmer for about ten to fifteen more minutes, shaking the pot occasionally, until any whole plums are split open and their skins slightly rumpled.

3. Remove the star anise and ginger piece and discard. Enjoy the fruit immediately, while hot, or let cool to room temperature. It’s also great chilled too. It’s excellent plain (if you can call anything with star anise and ginger in it “plain”), but it’s also lovely served alongside pretty much anything with vanilla or almond or cream in it…

Note: this recipe is easily increased, though with more fruit in the pot the cooking time might be slightly longer.

Bibliography

Slater, Nigel. “Cinnamon and anise plums.” Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2012 (427).

*However, if you are in a Commonwealth country you may find it easier to locate the book in its original release by Fourth Estate in 2010 as Tender, Volume II: A Cook’s Guide to the Fruit Garden.

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