Thursday, December 16, 2010

Emerald Beaut Holiday Surprise

Emerald Beauts -- possibly one of the juiciest, most crisp and delicious summer fruits I've had the pleasure of enjoying. What elevates these green-skinned, late summer plums is that the skin isn't sour! The cool, crunch of juice and sweetness does not suffer the insult of a sour skin, like so many other plums.

My mom and I first discovered these treats on a relaxing jaunt through Truckee's farmers' market while on vacation several summers ago. Returning home, we discovered our new favorite fruit had a very short season and limited availability. A lifelong patron of local Bay Area farmers' markets, I was not dissuaded and have turned it into an annual hunt.

This year, I got a big bag of them and decided to experiment in the kitchen with the goal of creating a lovely surprise for when my mom returned from her extended adventures in Italy. I washed and quartered a huge batch, sprinkled them with a touch of lemon juice and a pinch of sugar and tucked them away in my freezer. I brought the frozen fruit home for Thanksgiving and researched my culinary options. Favorites among the research include a spectacularly colorful "Red Leaf and Basil Salad with Emeral Beaut and Moyer Plums and a Fig-Balsamic Vinaigrette" and the oh-so-comforting "Emerald Beaut Plum Crumble."

These Emerald Beauts had become more than just fruit to me, they were like golden bits of summer brightening my palate. I sought culinary advice from several home cooks I admire (thank you More Diane and Julie!), and ended up making a galette as well as jam so I could fully enjoy the naked flavors. I followed these relatively simple Plum Galette and Plum Jam recipes. Next time I will use finer cornmeal and fruit that has not been frozen, but the end result was just right -- not overly sweet, but a delicious testament to the Emerald Beaut. We gobbled up the galette in no time, but the jam has been lovely on toast!

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