Plum compote

On Wednesday I found myself at the side of an industrial building in the Shire, doing a deal. The substance in question was plums; the dealer was a dear old school friend Chappers. Chappers’ trademark is her Landie. You hear it before you see it. It suits her.

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Chappers handing over the goods


When the offer of a bag of free fruit comes along, you NEVER turn it down. These plums were pilfered by Chappers’ from her Mum’s orchard in Castlemorton, which by now will be laden with soft purple fruit. These home-grown plums are a bit different to the ones in the shops, much smaller, very difficult to stone, nectar-scented, and simultaneously sweet as you like whilst acidic enough to induce face-pulling. They would have been great for chutney, but really, who eats that much chutney? So compote it is.

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Coated in sugar

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Simmer down with a vanilla pod

I optimistically attempted to stone these before cooking, but gave up after about 5; it would have taken a whole day to stone the lot. So I just cooked them up and once cold, fished out the stones with my fingers. It came out quite tart so I put in more icing sugar at the end to balance the flavours. One carrier-bag of fruit produced about three pints of compote. It’s gloriously gloopy and unashamedly richly purple.

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Bagged up for freezing

There are endless possibilities for this…use as the base of a Bakewell tart, mix with custard for a fool, eat with yoghurt for breakfast, add cinnamon and five spice for a Chinese sauce, and so on.

I made trifle. Soak sponge with sherry, layer up with the compote, then top with home-made creamy vanilla custard and whipped cream. Any pudding that requires two different types (and cartons) of cream can’t be bad.

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