Plum crazy: Greengage plums in savory dishes

I have to apologize for not being on the ball: after I wrote my last post, I went to see Fiona Apple (amazing) and immediately came down with a sinus infection the next morning, which I think (!) I just got rid of.   To make it all a little busier, my SO is having a milestone birthday this weekend, and I was gifted with an Outside Lands ticket for next weekend.  (Stevie Wonder/Neil Young/Beck/Foo Fighters/Franz Ferdinand/Andrew Bird/Metallica!  Be still my angsty teenage heart!)

But I haven’t forgotten what I set out to do: experiment with some plums.

First, though: how to pit the plums quickly.  These pits stick to the flesh, so you have to cut around them.  Here’s the best way I found to do it.  It’s not perfect, but it’s fast and clean, and you will get better as you go along.  You will need a cutting board, a sharp paring knife, one large bowl for the plums, and a smaller one for the pits.  (You may find yourself with juice on the cutting board; just sweep it into the large bowl with the plum pieces, especially if you plan to puree the plums.)

If that doesn’t make sense, feel free to ask me.  I considered making a video, but it was hard enough to pit the plums and take pictures by myself!

After you’ve practiced that a bit, consider making these two savory recipes: a greengage-mustard compote and a greengage cream sauce.


Adapted from Food Network for use with greengage plums (and my preference for cooking with bourbon); also check out their step-by-step canning how-to

Makes approximately 32 oz.

  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 c bourbon
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (This was not enough spice for me – I would up my next batch to a full teaspoon.)
  • 4 3-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 lbs greengage plums, pitted
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemons in wide strips, leaving the bitter white pith behind.
  2. Squeeze the lemon juice through a strainer into a large, wide saucepan.
  3. Add the zest, water, bourbon, sugar, honey, mustard seeds, peppercorns and red pepper flakes.
  4. Tie the rosemary and bay leaves together with twine and add to the pan.  If using dry bay leaves and you can’t tie them together without breaking them, just keep track of them as you cook.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. The liquid should have thickened.
  6. Add the plums and cranberries to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the peaches are just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; discard the herbs.  If, after adding the plums, the liquid is no longer thickened enough, continue to simmer (about 10 more minutes for me).
  7. Let cool.
  8. Try this with a brie grilled cheese or pan-fried pork.  It is what god intended for grilled cheese to be, I am certain.


Try this with pan-fried chicken or fish.  My SO described this as “good, kind of mustardy” which is high praise from him.  For more of a fruit flavor, use more puree and less chicken broth.  (This is a sauce I made up on the fly, so I’m sure it could use some inspired variations.  I apologize if the directions are lacking–this is something I constantly struggle with.  Please let me know.  “Just make it until it tastes good!” makes sense to me, but no one else.)

Makes approximately 1.5 cups.

  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tsbp butter
  • 1 cup hot chicken/vegetable broth
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup greengage plum puree
  • 1/4 c cream (more to taste)
  • 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Melt butter in saucepan and add flour, whisking constantly to make a golden (blonde) roux.
  2. When the roux has thickened, pour in the broth slowly, while stirring.  Whisk constantly until the mixture is thickened and there are no lumps.
  3. Bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking occasionally to make sure the sauce isn’t sticking to the pan.  When the sauce has reached the desired thickness, move on to step 4.
  4. Whisk in the lemon juice, then the plum puree.
  5. Add in the cream and combine thoroughly.
  6. Whisk in 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar, and taste (carefully!) to see if you want more or less vinegar.  When you’ve reached your desired flavor, add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
  7. Serve warm alongside pork, chicken, fish, or polenta cakes with sauteed greens.

4 responses to “Plum crazy: Greengage plums in savory dishes

  1. Pingback: National Bourbon Heritage Month: gelato + cocktails « Frolic & Detour·

  2. This is excellent. However next time I will cut back on the lemon rind. Mine came out tasting a lot like lemon marmalade instead of any plum flavor. But nice mix of flavors for complexity if the zest was not quite so prominent.

    • I’m sorry it turned out so lemony for you! I wonder if it was a difference in the variety of lemons or plums — mine was tart, but the plums came through.

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