Good morning. Monday, eh. Bloody well arrives without fail every week. Why is it the awful things are always the most reliable?
Rightyo – so I don’t know about you but I quite like fruit. Actually I like it a lot, but that’s probably due in part to my Mama who was a brisk and efficient mother but also one who didn’t suffer foolish treats such as lollies or cordial or juice and we were children who snacked on fruit (not Mama’s fruit, obviously, which was of a much higher quality and lived on top of the fridge, out of our reach) and supped on water. At the time it made staying with friends whose homes held such glories as chips (or crisps, if you’re UK) and yoghurt muesli bars and red cordial really, really exciting. Now I’m glad of Mama’s asceticism and frown heavily at babies drinking Ribena from bottles.
Winter’s fruits are shit. Bananas, apples and oranges. All nice but a bit repetitive and also a bit air-miles unfriendly. Well, maybe not apples. Either way I have very fond memories of my Nana (fond especially as she’s still with us AND WILL BE FOREVER) having stewed great vats of plums, nectarines, peaches and pears, stored in ice-cream tubs in the deep-freeze. In winter we’d have a constant roll-call of stewed summer fruit. It was ACES. I bought a couple of punnets of plums pretty cheaply recently and was going to make a plum and apple crumble. I didn’t, though. I ended up making stewed plums.
Above are some of the fruit-based ingredients for apple and plum crumble. By the way, Bramley apples are SHIT. They go all gritty and fall to mush faster than ladies with bad taste do at Tom Jones. What the hell is wrong with a good Granny Smith, English supermarkets, eh?
Anyway, get some fruit of your choice together. Two punnets of plums was mine. Those apples are still on the bench, sulkily waiting for their time in the bin.
You’ll also want some brown sugar, soft if you can manage it. The amount of sugar you add will be entirely to your taste. I don’t like much as I like my fruit, stewed anyway, a bit tart.
Peel, stone and chop your fruit as required. See above.
You’ll also want a bit of lemon, actually (specially if you’re stewing pears and/or apples – in fact as you prepare them make sure they’re coated in lemon juice otherwise they’ll go a nasty brown). I also remembered I had some maple syrup in the fridge and thought maybe I’d try a bit of that in lieu of sugar. I’m well experimental. I didn’t use more than a dessertspoon in the end, as I went in another flavour direction entirely, so it was not noticeable in the final result and I thus wasted some nice maple syrup.
In your saucepan throw all the fruit, a good but not too liberal splash of water and the juice of about half a lemon. Start to warm through over a lowish heat.
Add the sugar in amounts of your choosing – I used a modest tablespoon.
I also remembered how much I love vanilla (which is a lot) so I added a good 3 teaspoons of this stuff too. Probably slightly more than needed but it was near the end of the bottle so I chucked it all in. Risk-taker, me.
The fruit will start to break down. It’ll start smelling nice. Keep it going.
Has anyone had this coconut water stuff? It’s all over the place, with the Paleo diet and all that jazz. I thought I’d try some. I hated it. Sweet. I love coconut, but coconut water can do one. That’s £3.50 we’ll not get back. The boyfriend has said to keep it and he’ll think of what alcohol he can combine it with to best effect, but my money’s on this stuff living in the fridge till approximately December, then being unceremoniously dumped.
The plums will continue to break down and what might start happening is the skins free themselves from the pulp. You can pick these out if you want. I did, a bit, but it’s totally not essential and the skin adds a quite nice texture, the stuff you leave in anyway. Taste it for sweetness and add more sugar at this stage if you want it – to give time for it to dissolve.
Once you’ve brought it to a simmer and kept it there for a good ten minutes it should be done. See below. It’ll go the most amazing colour, the flavour of the plums will be quite intense. Serve with ice cream or custard, or just on its own. It’s freaking delish. It freezes beautifully, so freeze some.