At the Farmers' Market: Plums and Pluots and Apriums, Oh My!
|Apriums (yellow) and pluots (red-purple)|
Fruit season is heavily upon us, with all the stone fruit flooding the market. You'll see the end of the season's apricots and a whole host of plums, pluots, plumcots and apriums, all of which are tasty witness to the fact that all stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, etc.) can be interbred in almost limitless combination.
So what exactly are these things anyway?
There's a lot of confusion and mislabeling, but the general idea is this: a plumcot is a 50/50 cross between a plum and an apricot. If it's more plum than apricot, it's usually called a pluot (pronounced "PLOO-aht"), and if it's more apricot than plum, it's called an aprium (pronounced "AY-pree-umm" or "AA-pree-umm", depending on how you pronounce "apricot").
You'll notice that a lot of them, especially pluots, have varietal names containing the word "Flavor": Flavorheart, Flavor Rich, Flavorella, Flavorosa, Damnbabywhyyougottawastemyflavor. This is because technically "pluot" is a trademark of Zaiger Genetics, though it is swiftly becoming diluted.
Apriums are the tartest, as you might expect, and do best with lots of sugar in a pie. Plumcots tend to cling to the seed, but make excellent jam. Pluots are amazingly sweet and should be eaten fresh--try them in sliced, doused with the zabaglione recipe below and topped with crunched-up cookies (zwieback, amaretti, Nilla Wafers, whatever you have).
4 egg yolks, as fresh as possible
1/2 cup sugar (substitute up to half with vanilla sugar if you like)
1/3 cup Marsala wine
1. Bring two inches of water to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce to a bare simmer.
2. Put six inches of cold water in your sink.
3. In a heatproof (metal or Pyrex glass) bowl big enough to sit atop the saucepan without touching the water, whip the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is lightened in color, ribbony and very thick.
4. Whip in the Marsala wine.
5. Set the bowl over the saucepan and whip constantly until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3-4 minutes.
6. Set the bowl gently in the cold water in the sink and whip until cool, about 2-3 minutes.
7. Refrigerate if required, with plastic wrap pressed down directly onto the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming.