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Poached Plums in Spice Plum Wine

The season for plums is from July through September but, as with almost anything else these days, plums are available (although they’re not so sweet) all year long. When in the mood for a fruity dessert in the “off season,” poaching is a great choice. It allows fruit that’s not at its peak to be enjoyed fully, by being imbued with other complimentary flavors. When poaching plums, bright red Santa Rosas are my pick, since their compact texture and sweet-sour flavor make a perfect match (and add a great color) to the hot spiced poaching syrup. For best texture retention, choose plums that yield a bit in the hand but are not too soft.

And, when you’ve finished eating the fruit, don’t throw away the syrup since it makes a wonderful drink! Pour the chilled plum wine syrup over ice with a splash of club soda (garnish with a slice of orange and/or a sprig of fresh mint). For an extra festive way to serve this drink before filling the glass, moisten the rim with water or citrus juice and rotate the wet rim in a shallow layer of granulated sugar.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • 3 ½ quart non-reactive saucepan

For the plums:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 quarter-size slice of fresh ginger root, 1/4 -inch thick
  • 1 four-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 strips of orange peel (3 inches long and ½ inch wide) with some of the fruit attached; optional
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) plum wine
  • 12 to 14 ripe but firm plums, preferably Santa Rosa plums, kept whole
  • Plain or vanilla yogurt or softened vanilla ice cream, as an accompaniment

1. To prepare the poaching liquid: Place the sugar, water, star anise, ginger, cinnamon stick, orange zest, if using, and wine in a 3 1/2-quart, non-reactive saucepan, over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

2. To poach the plums: then add the plums and bring the liquid back to a gentle bubble, with the cover ajar, over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan fully and cook gently for 5 minutes. Drag the saucepan to a cool burner and let the fruit sit, covered, for 5 minutes, then uncovered for 10 minutes.

3. To store poached plums: One by one, place the plums in a large jar or bowl, using a slotted utensil, pulling off any pieces of skin that seem to be wanting to separate (leave all other skin on the fruit). Remove the spices and pour the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve, directly over the poached fruit and let cool, uncovered. Once cool, cover the bowl or jar well and chill for at least 1 hour, but preferably 6 to 24 hours (and up to 3 days).

4. To serve: Serve the plums with the syrup, cold or gently re-warmed, with a fork, knife and spoon, accompanied by a nice dollop of plain or vanilla yogurt or softened vanilla ice cream.

Timing is Everything

  • The poached plums can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, kept securely covered.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the plums:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 quarter-size slice of fresh ginger root, 1/4 -inch thick
  • 1 four-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 strips of orange peel (3 inches long and ½ inch wide) with some of the fruit attached; optional
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) plum wine
  • 12 to 14 ripe but firm plums, preferably Santa Rosa plums, kept whole
  • Plain or vanilla yogurt or softened vanilla ice cream, as an accompaniment

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Granulated sugar

From the produce section:

  • 1 knob fresh ginger
  • 12 to 14 firm but ripe plums (preferably Santa Rosas)
  • 1 navel orange (optional)

From the spice section:

  • Star anise
  • Cinnamon sticks

From the spirits section:

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) plum wine

From the dairy or frozen section:

  • Plain or vanilla yogurt or vanilla ice cream

If planning to enjoy the syrup as a beverage:

  • Liter bottle of club soda
  • Fresh mint
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