Kuchen (“cake”) and Obstkuchen (“fruit cake”) can refer to many different desserts and pastries in Austria and Germany. By Austrian fruit cake I am referring to a very simple, very common preparation of a dense but tender cake that is topped with seasonal fruit before going in the oven. It’s made throughout the year with whatever fruit happens to be best that day. I was in Austria in May, June, and July, and saw it made first with rhubarb, then cherries, then apricots. The fruit settles into the cake nicely during the bake, but is still visible from the top. I think soft fruits that get a touch jammy when cooked work best for this (as opposed to, say, apples … Continue reading.
Right off the hop: I stole this idea from Ben Staley. He made “Green Plum Cured like an Olive” at Alta (RIP) and it really blew my mind. Not sure if he is serving these at Yarrow or not. After my meal at Alta I talked to Ben briefly and asked how he made the plum olives. If I remember right he said they were fermented in brine, then pressure-cooked with a bit of vinegar. I’ve since done some research and it turns out that pickled green plums are actually quite common across North Africa and the Middle East. Still, I owe Ben for introducing me to the concept.
To be clear we are talking about plums that are … Continue reading.
Out of hand the flesh of a Japanese plum is so mild you might consider dialling back the sugar for a jam recipe. You definitely should not! First, the sugar is essential for the mixture to actually “jam” or set, but also that generous dose of sweetness balances the acidity that is unleashed during cooking. I ended up using the same ratio I use for raspberry jam: 2:1 fruit to sugar. Even with this high sugar content, the jam is quite tart. We noticed that of our two … Continue reading.
No process better demonstrates the difference in “behaviour” between European plums (Prunus domestica) and Japanese plums (Prunus salicina) than drying. Whereas typical grocery store prunes made from domestica are soft, chewy, and super sweet with dark flavours of caramel, dried Prunus salicina are much more like dried sour cherries.
These plums at left were halved, pitted, and kept in our dehydrator overnight around 40°C.
Even though the flesh of fresh Japanese plums has very little acidity, as I wrote about in this post most processing methods cause a dramatic change in flavour and the fruit becomes sour. Dehydrating of course concentrates this acidity. I like sour … Continue reading.
Last summer I posted about our Japanese plum trees, and how we had harvested a few plums from each tree the last two summers.
This year we got our first appreciable harvest, so I have finally been able to play around with how best to store, cook, and preserve the fruit. There is almost no useful English-language information online regarding Japanese plums in the kitchen, and we’ve had some pretty surprising results, so I thought I would share!
The following information is all about our Ptitsin #3 cultivar. We are still waiting for the Ivanovka to ripen, but expect similar results.
Harvesting. Plums are able to ripen off the tree. When the Ptitsin plums are almost fully ripe, … Continue reading.
The best time to plant a plum tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.
-“Chinese proverb” (probably not though…)
We have two Japanese plum trees in our yard. The cultivar names are confusingly but unmistakably Slavic: Ivanovka and Ptitsin #3. The trees were purchased as cuttings from the University of Saskatchewan, but the varieties were first developed at the Morden Research Station in Manitoba and first released in 1939. We chose these specific varieties for their cold-heartiness, fruit quality, and pollination requirements.
For most of our other fruit trees we didn’t have to give much thought to pollination. Our sour cherries, for instance, are all self-pollinating. And while apples must … Continue reading.