On Leslie’s Vashon Island farm, there is one very productive Italian plum tree. The blue plums have a sweet yellow flesh that is ideal for an unforgettable fruit conserve. For those of you not yet familiar with Project Barnstorm, Leslie’s new line of fruit spreads, it’s a tasty celebration of the seasons. By picking the fruit at its peak, or buying it straight from some of the best local farmers, the fruit spreads capture the natural essence of the fruit. Leslie’s fruit spreads have less sugar than jam, allowing the ripe fruit’s natural sweetness to shine through. Opening a jar at any time of year brings summer right back.
Leslie’s Plum Conserves get a lovely dimension of flavor from just a hint of fresh rosemary. The Plum Conserves are delicious on a cornetto or yogurt fruit bowl or served as a dollop with roast chicken or pork loin.
While it may be tempting to open the jar right away, you may want to add it to your larder. Larder is a little-used term these days, but most houses built in pre-refrigeration days had one. Usually built on the north side of the house, close to the ground with a mesh window to allow air to circulate, larders were food storehouses. Because they weren’t cold like a refrigerator, much of the summer harvest was cooked and stored in sealed jars. With freezers and refrigerators, it sometimes seems that food changed from something we make to something we buy. We lost something essential in the transition. While you might not be doing the growing and jarring yourself, bolding a larder containing farm-fresh specialties will connect you to the land all winter long. There’s a special joy that comes from pulling a favorite treat from your larder and dressing up your meal with the sweet flavors of summer.
At our cafés, we have served this conserve on a Ricotta-Stuffed Brioche French Toast and have used it on a Rosemary Ham & Brie Sandwich. For the holidays, we love to serve it with Dinah’s Cheese from Vashon Island or Cambozola Black Label with our Sardinian Flat Bread. Or keep it simple and dress up a bowl of vanilla ice cream with a dollop of Plum Conserves and a few roasted almonds for crunch. This very versatile condiment will be hard to keep in your larder for long, but you won’t be sorry.