Varieties of plums on our markets include Cambridge Gage, Opel, Victoria, Czar, Early Rivers, Old Green Gage, Merryweather Damson, and Marjorie’s Seedling, fine old names many of them for a stately fruit that marks the midpoint between summer and autumn.
I love the sweet subtleness of green and golden gages; changing colour as they ripen and their sugar content increases. They make the best crumble, especially with a generous handful of ground almonds in the mix. As do damsons, but then damsons need to be cooked to be appreciated. None of this ‘one for me, one for the pot’ when damson picking.
Roast plums with panna cotta
Make the panna cotta first. Place 300ml milk, 300ml double cream and 6 tbsp caster sugar into a small pan. Split 1 vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the pan, then drop in the pod. Simmer together gently for about 5 minutes then take off the heat.
Put 2 tbsp cold water in another small pan and sprinkle over 2 tsp powdered gelatine. Set aside for about 5 minutes then heat gently until it clears. Take the vanilla pod out of the mixture and stir in the dissolved gelatine. When mixed in pour into moulds and chill for at least 3 hours, or until it’s set.
Get your grill hot. Slice about 18 firm, fresh plums in half lengthways, remove the stones then place the fruit cut side up onto a grill rack, sitting in the grill pan. Place under the grill and roast until really soft and even starting to char. Carefully remove the plums from the grill rack and place in a flat dish. Pour any liquid from the grill pan over the plums then sprinkle 10 tbsp (at least) of vanilla sugar liberally all over. Set aside for as long as possible By the time the panna cotta have set, the plums will have released their juices that will have mixed with the sugar to create a delicious syrup. To serve, empty a panna cotta onto the side of a plate and place some plum pieces next to it. Then pour some of the plum syrup over.