I could not resist – for their beauty alone — the small yellow plums and dark violet Santa Rosa plums that a nearby orchard carted to one of our local farmers’ markets this weekend. They could have subbed for flowers as a centerpiece any day but were also delicious raw and cooked. After reserving a few to eat raw, the Santa Rosa plums will go into a simple summer cake and the yellow ones inspired another plum sorbet.
While Santa Rosa plums, like the Italian prune plums that I used for the last cake, are “freestone,” the yellow ones are “clingstones.” Freestone means that the outer flesh easily separates from the pit or stone. Obviously, clingstones do not (think mango). I made an interesting discovery the last time that I made plum sorbet, when I combined freestone and clingstone types. If I microwaved the plums for a few minutes, I could use a knife and fork to cut the plum in half and extract the pit easily. The flesh is getting cooked anyway, so this made everything easy.
Because plums — like other stone fruit, meaning a member of the “drupes,” in which the real seed is protected by a stone-like shell surrounded by the fruit and an outer skin that we eat — are fleshy, they make sorbet that is naturally creamy and not so icy as other types. Nonetheless, it is typical to add a teaspoon of a neutral alcohol like vodka (or something complementary like Amaretto for peaches, or maybe sake for plums) to keep the sorbet smooth. I didn’t do that in this instance since I had added the juice of half a lemon to keep the color bright. This produces a tangy sorbet. If you like things sweeter, add more sugar.
Yellow Plum Sorbet
1½ lb yellow plums (about 1 ¼ inch in diameter)
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ c water
3/4 c granulated sugar
Microwave the plums in a single layer for about 4 minutes until slightly soft. Using a knife and fork, cut them in half and remove the pit. (I tested at 3 minutes and decided I needed a little more time because of the volume of fruit.) Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Combine the plums, water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes or until the plum is soft. Cool, buzz in a food processor and refrigerate for several hours until well chilled. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Makes nearly 1 quart of tangy, delicious and beautiful sorbet.