My all-time favorite plums are Santa Rosa plums, created by none other than the famous Luther Burbank, who lived in the Santa Rosa Valley at the turn of the twentieth century. The flesh is yellow and red, super juicy and sweet, and the skins are tart purple. They have a heavenly flavor whether you eat, cook or bake with them. I planted a Santa Rosa plum at my home and have missed both the plum and the Blenheim apricot tree since moving.
Fortunately, my daughter has a Santa Rosa plum tree in her garden and a couple of weeks ago she brought me a large freezer bag of cut up plums. I used some for baking and the rest I decided would make a refreshing granita, perfect for the warm weather we were enjoying..
I thumbed through David Lebovitz’ book, Scoop, and discovered that he loves Santa Rosa plus too and has a recipe for Plum Granita. I adapted his recipe by including vanilla and mint. Then I made a “fatal” error. He suggests running the cooked plum mixture through a mixer or food processor before pouring it into a pan to freeze.
The problem is I used my adored Vitamix, which pureed the fruit and syrup so efficiently that it effectively became sorbet. No icy crystals emerged as it froze, just smooth, creamy sorbet. What I did learn, however, is that if you don’t have an ice cream freezer but you do have a sturdy blender or food processor, you can still make a delicious sorbet. If not, make Plum Granita. Either way it’s a win.
- 1-1/2 pounds plums (about 12), ideally Santa Rosa or Flavor King pluots
- 1-3/4 cups water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup packed mint leaves on their stems or to taste -- or substitute basil if you'd prefer
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Slice plums and remove pits. Cut into smaller pieces and put them in a medium, nonreactive saucepan with the water and mint. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Add vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature. Remove mint.
- Once the mixture has cooled, run through a blender or food processor until well-pureed. Place in an ice cream canister and prepare according to manufacturer's instructions.
- If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour into a container with at least a 1 quart capacity, ideally with 2-inch sides. Chill until it is lightly frozen.
- For sorbet, run again through a blender or food processor, return to container, and allow to freeze.
- For granita, take a fork and stir the mixture, breaking up the frozen parts near the edges into smaller chunks and rake them toward the center. Return the dish to the freezer, then check the mixture every 30 minutes afterward, stirring each time and breaking any large chunks into small pieces with a fork, until you have fine crystals of granita. It if freezes too hard, allow it to sit out for a few minutes, then break it up.
- Whichever you've made, scoop the frozen dessert into cups or small glasses, garnish with more mint, and add whipped cream if you'd like or serve with small cookies.