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Autumn 2008

Home grown plums and damsons have a short season of about six weeks but taste so much better than those usually on offer in supermarkets. They freeze well however, so simply freeze the fruit whole or halve and stone the fruit first. Keep the stones and freeze them in a bag if you are thinking of making jam later- they help the jam set. Plums are delicious in all sorts of baking and desserts but also make a wonderful accompaniment to fattier meats such as pork or duck. E.L.



AROMATIC PLUM SAUCE (Serves 6 - 8)

A fantastic accompaniment to roast, grilled or barbequed pork or duck - or even sausages. This recipe will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 weeks and can also be frozen in batches. A great way to use up a glut of plums or damsons.

1 tblsp vegetable oil
½ red onion, very finely chopped
thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tblsp finely chopped fresh corriander stems
½ star anise
100g / 4oz caster sugar
450g / 1lb plums or damsons, halved and stoned
½ tblsp light soy sauce
1 tsp Thai fish sauce
2 tblsp chopped corriander leaves

Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander stems and star anise and fry gently, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and cook until the sugar dissolves and is just about to change colour - about 5 minutes. Add the prepared plums or damsons and continue cooking for about 10 minutes or until the plums begin to soften but remain chunky. Stir in the soy sauce, fish sauce and chopped coriander and set aside to cool. Recipe: Monique Law


BREAKFAST CONSERVE (Makes approx. 6 jars)

2 oranges
1.5 kg / 3lbs 6oz plums
1kg / 2lbs 4oz granulated sugar

Wash the unpeeled oranges and cut into rough pieces. Remove as many pips as possible and then put them into a food processor. Give them a quick whizz until you have small bits of peel and pulp, roughly the size of a pea. Stone the plums and tie the stones in a muslin bag.

Put the chopped oranges, plums, 'bagged' stones and sugar in a large preserving pan and heat slowly to boiling point, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer, stirring frequently, for about 1½ hours, or until setting point is reached. Remove the bag of plum stones and discard. Pour the conserve into clean, warmed jars. Cover with waxed discs and lids. Recipe: Sarah Bush

AUTUMN FUDGE CRUMBLE (Serves 6)

700g / 1lb 8 oz prepared fruit
75g / 3oz brown sugar, or to taste
For the topping:
100g / 4oz butter, melted
100g / 4oz demerara sugar
150g / 6oz digestive biscuits, crushed
1 tsp ground ginger or ground cinnamon


Put the fruit and sugar in a covered ovenproof dish and bake at 180ºC / Gas 4 for 30 minutes. Combine all the topping ingredients in a saucepan and cook for a few minutes. Cover the fruit with the mixture and bake for 15 minutes at 200C / Gas 6.