This is sponsored content for Australian Summer Stonefruit
When fragrant, sweet and tangy Aussie plums hit the supermarket shelves, it's a sign that summer has arrived.
Available in a range of varieties, each a different jewel-like colour, plums are more than a healthy addition to the fruit bowl – they're also a versatile and healthy ingredient in the kitchen.
"What I love about cooking with plums is that they work so well both ways – they work really well sweet, obviously, but they've also got that slight tannic edge, which is what makes them work really well in savoury things like chutneys," says cookbook author and cooking teacher Belinda Jeffery.
"And that amazing colour – it's just so beautiful, and depending on how you cook them, it infuses everything they go with."
If you've never thought to add plums to a warm dish, prepare your taste buds: Jeffery pairs plums with flavours like chilli and lime to create bold accompaniments to meat.
Of course, this fruit shines in desserts as well, from a classic crumble to an old-fashioned upside-down cake.
If that's whet your appetite, dig into these delicious ways to make the most of this quintessential summer crop.
On the side: Preserved plums
Jam or chutney? Choose your preference or make both for long-lasting goodness.
"Plum jam is one of the simplest jams of all because they've got so much pectin, unlike a lot of fruit, so plum jam always sets," Jeffery explains.
"When it's homemade you just get that beautiful clear flavour of the plums coming through."
Jeffery suggests adding the seeds of a vanilla pod or some ginger to flavour the jam.
If you're making chutney, "Use the slightly drier plums," Jeffery tips, "not when they're overripe, otherwise it's just too wet."
Onion, ginger, cinnamon and vinegar will give your plum chutney a fragrant sweet-and-sour tang: "It goes well with smoked meats like ham, it's beautiful with pork, and a Heidi gruyere or cheddar with a really good plum chutney is lovely."
For breakfast: Roasted plums
Less is more when it comes to cooking plums, Jeffery says. "You just need to heat them enough to get the juices running and that's when they're at their best."
Her favourite way to cook plums is to bake them and serve them with yoghurt for breakfast.
Halve the plums and leave in the stone if it won't come out easily. "Then just put them in an ovenproof dish cut-side up, drizzle them with maple syrup or maple syrup mixed with a tiny bit of vanilla, and put them in a really hot, 220 to 240-degree oven for about 15 minutes," explains Jeffrey.
Leave to cool to room temperature, then remove any remaining stones and store in a container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
While it makes an indulgent breakfast, roasted plums are also a great accompaniment to a rich chocolate cake. "It cuts through the chocolate, so it's a really nice thing to have on the side," says Jeffery.
Baked plums are a perfect addition to your breakfast. Photo: Getty.
For dinner: Plum salsa
It's hot, and the barbecue is calling. This is when plums can really shine, says Jeffery, who recommends making a fresh salsa with the fruit to serve alongside flamed meats.
"If you've got something on the barbecue like a spicy chicken dish, then a salsa made with plums, chilli, lime, grated ginger and a tiny bit of sugar and fish sauce is really nice as a fresh accompaniment," she says.
"Plums have got that sweetness, but you add a bit of fire with the chillies and that sharpness with the lime juice and it changes the whole thing."
For dessert: Plum crostata
All you need to make an impressive dessert is some shortcrust pastry and fresh plums.
Crostata, a kind of rustic, free-form tart, is a simple way to showcase stone fruit.
"I just put a mix of stone fruit in the pastry with a little bit of sugar over the top and that's my go-to summer dessert," says Jeffery.
Bake for around 25 minutes and serve with crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream.
For entertaining: Plum sauce
Once you've made your own plum sauce, you'll never go back to the bought stuff, says Jeffery.
"Star anise and plums go beautifully together; they work so well in an Asian plum sauce with that licoricey hint to them."
Cook fresh plums with red onion, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, star anise and chilli, then blend till smooth.
Serve the sauce with roasted pork or duck, as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, or use it to glaze ribs or even your Christmas ham.
Rediscover summer with this season's local stone fruits. Head to Australian Summer Stonefruit for more delicious recipe ideas to try out this entertaining season.