My friend Anne tells me that the plums growing back behind the raspberry canes in her yard are a Japanese variety. They ripen to a deep purple and become so plump that a wayward fingernail can pierce the skin, exposing the red and yellow flesh and sending a stream of juice straight for your sandals. Same if the skin is pierced with the teeth. Then the juice might rain down on someone’s head, as could have been case on Monday evening.
“I’ve eaten five plums!” One of Anne’s sons was keeping count from his spot on a branch of the tree. “And I think I can eat just one more.”
Why did an experience like this one feel magical? It’s nothing new. A bumper crop. A last-minute call to help process the overload, now. A bad year is always going to be balanced out eventually by a year that makes the branches droop to the ground and yet when it happens, we’re all still amazed. Oh! This is what that old hack of a word means: bounty. It’s not a still life of a cornucopia with all those perfectly behaved squashes and apples and just-husked ears of corn spilling onto a periwinkle tablecloth. The plants burst out. The hens lay and lay. The trees are messy with their gifts.
As we picked, a few fragile plums fell, willy-nilly, as if a giant baby was shoving them from her high chair in the middle of the kitchen floor. Just for fun! To see what happens! Splat! And the tree, as Anne said in an email that morning, smelled like juice. No time to waste.
The only solution was purée. These plums (Prunus salicina, perhaps?) must have been bred for their juice. The younger plums were soft enough to eat, firm enough to slice in half but too tart to enjoy. So we harvested the mushy ones, squeezed out the pits and ran the skin, flesh and juice through a strainer attachment on the Kitchenaid.
We filled every container Anne could dredge up with the purée, which turned out to be the bright pink of amusement park rides and Slush Puppies.
We drank some straight, out of wine glasses. That was delicious. But it’s also good if you add a few seasonal ingredients. A beautiful morning drink or mid-day treat.
Summer Plum Refresher
1 cup fresh plum purée
3 ice cubes or plum purée ice cubes
½ cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
3-5 fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon lime zest
Makes 2 one-cup servings.
Combine in blender until smooth. Serve immediately.