Ported Plums

My plum tree is covered in plums!  Stanley (that’s the tree’s name. It’s a Stanly plum tree) has dark dusky plums hanging in clusters everywhere.

plum tree

Now Stanley was not always a prolific tree. In fact, for the first five years, he bore no fruit, despite the fact that he grew full and leafy and made delightful shade. Stanleys are self-pollinating, so I was rather disappointed in his lack of productivity. Then I bought a tall, elegant self-pollinating cherry tree that I planted next to Stanly. The very first summer, that tree produced a handful of sweet, succulent cherries. So I took the handful of cherries and held them out in front of Stanley. “This” I told him firmly, “is what you are supposed to do. If I don’t see plums next year, I’m going to chop you down and put in another cherry tree.”  Next summer, Stanley produced over 40 pounds of plums. Don’t tell me it’s because of the presence of a pollinating tree next to him. I don’t want to hear science. I want to think that my stern lecture worked. In subsequent years, he’s varied in production from 5 pounds to 30-40 pounds. Last year he sulked because I had him pruned. This is a 40 pound year, I’m sure.

I’ve been out in the cool of the morning picking plums. I picked about 5 pounds when they were really not at peak ripeness, but if I wait to pick them when they are all perfectly ripe, I’ll have 40 pounds of ripe plums to deal with.  Besides, I rather like the tart sweet flavor of the young plums. (Warning – these are sometimes called prune plums.  If you eat them by the handful – well, you know the result!) The plums are also great to cook with at this stage.  Then I picked all of the plums I could reach standing on the ground and bending down the branches. There are still a lot of plums up higher in the tree, which require a ladder to pick.

plum counter

One of my favorite things to do with Stanley plums is to poach them in port and top them with sour cream or whipped cream. (I think this would also be good with other sweet wines, such as sherry). This is really not a precise recipe.  Put plums (as many as you want to eat or serve) in a heavy pot. You can pit them if you want or cook them with the pits in.  Pour port wine into the pot about half way up the plums. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer, turning them over occasionally, until the plums are soft but still hold their shape. This is very sweet; you do’t need to add sugar. Serve warm, topped with non-fat sour cream.  This has essentially 0 grams of fat.

plum ported

For guests, you can also top them with a dollop of whipped cream.  Or cook them down so they are mushy and a spoon them over low fat ice cream – but be sure to count the fat grams in the whipped cream or ice cream.

Now excuse me while I dine on ported plums and a cup of hot tea and drift off for a nap.


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I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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