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The Amazing Flavors of Stone Fruit

close up picture of plums

This year has been amazing for stone fruits, the ones with pits. Just a few weeks ago, I filled every bowl and bucket in my house with beautiful tree-ripened peaches from my garden. So sweet and juicy! I transformed them into peach pie, peach cobbler, and a favorite family dessert—peach Melba. I’m not even mentioning the pints and pints of canned peaches I plan to use as yogurt toppers and for more delicious desserts in the dark days of winter.

As though they had been waiting behind the curtain, plums arrived as soon as the peaches were done. I have a wonderful yellow plum tree grown from a cutting from an old schoolyard in Port Orchard—a variety which is appropriately called the Schoolhouse Plum. And my neighbors have a big, old Italian plum tree that presents them with more fruit than they can possibly use. So, I get the best of both worlds—yellow and purple plums.

I use the purple plums to make plum pie, which is my favorite dessert. You also can slice the fruit and serve as a salad with basil, olive oil, and vinegar. You can substitute yellow plums for tomatoes in a Greek salad or fold them into a cake mix along with a teaspoon of almond flavoring and bake a simple, elegant dessert.

The jalapeno-infused jam I make with yellow plums is perhaps my favorite. I call it “Plum Hot” because the sweet, hot, and tart flavors all mix together. Brush it over chicken breasts during the last five minutes of barbecuing, mix it into a salad dressing, or serve it on sliced baguettes with goat cheese.

To make Plum Hot jam, follow any recipe for plum jam and then add about 3 medium-sized jalapeno peppers, diced very finely. Also, I like to add half a red bell pepper to give it a bit more color.

Stone fruits don’t last long. Visit your farmers market and press your neighbors who are letting their fruit drop to the ground so you can grab the last tastes of fleeting summer.

canned peachesPeach Melba

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 peaches, halved and pitted

1 cup raspberries

2 tablespoons sugar

Bring 1 cup sugar and 2 cups water to a simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add peaches and lemon juice. Cook about 10 minutes, until peaches are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Let stand until you can touch, and then remove skins from peaches. Chill peach halves in a bowl.

Puree the raspberries in a blender or food processor or mash in a fine sieve. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar to the raspberry puree, stirring until dissolved. Serve peaches with scoops of vanilla ice cream drizzled with raspberry sauce.

For an outdoor twist to this recipe, leave peach skins on, spread the cut halves with brown sugar and butter and grill on the barbecue. Serve with ice cream and raspberry sauce. If you are camping, make the raspberry sauce ahead of time; it will keep for several days. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

Calories: 147, Carbohydrates: 37 grams, Protein: 1 gram, Sodium: 0 milligrams

Plum pieKaty’s Plum Pie

This is the best pie there is, tart and tangy with an old European pastry feel.

1 box prepared pie crust

4 cups fresh or frozen plums (Italian prunes, or any plums you have)

6 tablespoons dry tapioca powder or cornstarch

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon or pie spice

¼ teaspoon almond extract

½ can or package marzipan or almond paste

Zest of ½ lemon

Split plums in half and remove seeds. If you have lots, put some in a freezer bag and freeze so you can have this great pie year-round. Dice half of the marzipan and freeze the rest for your next pie.

Mix all ingredients in bowl. Put pie crust in 9-inch pie pan. Pour filling in and top with other crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 35–45 minutes, until filling is bubbling out. Be sure you put aluminum foil or a cookie sheet below the pie—it will drip bubbly wonderfulness all over your oven. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

Calories: 270, Carbohydrates: 45 grams, Protein: 3 grams, Sodium: 92 milligrams


Contributor Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. The National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition has honored her with its highest awards: the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award and the Joel D. Kopple Award for significant contributions in renal nutrition. See more recipes at www.nwkidney.org.

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