Wallingford Plum Soup

We couldn’t stand it. Every day, we’d be out, strolling around the neighborhood, and there they were: two trees full of the brightest golden plums you’ve ever seen.  They ripened and ripened and eventually began to fall, big fat raindrop splashes of juicy plums, wasted windfall.

We admit it: we wanted them!

So this past Saturday, we got up our gumption and knocked on the door. Nobody was home, but we did notice a package waiting for pick-up, addressed to a player on Seattle’s elite ultimate frisbee team, Sockeye. A bit of detective work, an e-mail or two, and we had permission from Andrew to do some picking.

All the low-hanging fruit had been picked by other passersby, so, yesterday afternoon, the Wallyhood family loaded up a step-ladder on the top of the stroller and made our way up to 43rd and Thackeray for some harvesting.

The fruit was so ripe it often burst in our hands as we picked, but we managed to fish a good dozen or two out from the treetops (stopping, of course, to taste test several times).

But then, what to do with a dozen or two plums that were too ripe to keep? The fruit flies had already colonized our kitchen, so leaving them in a bowl was a non-starter.

Instead, we pitted them into a container and, for some reason, got it in our heads to make a cold plum soup.

The problem was that all the recipes we found for cold plum soup involved heavy doses of cinnamon, which just wasn’t sitting right with our palette. We wanted something lighter, more refreshing, like a cold cucumber soup. In our investigations, we found an interesting recipe for Fried Plum Raviolis with Mint Ice Cream, which gave us an idea: Cold Plum-Mint Soup.

Problem was, we had no mint. We’d just gotten a rooted clipping from Olivier and Isabel down the street, but we hadn’t even planted it yet.

Back to the neighborhood! We sent out a message over Twitter earlier this afternoon: “Wallyhood needs mint!”, and the offers from kindly neighbors flowed in. In the end, we loaded Baby Z into his bike trailer and headed down towards Bagley and 36th, where we paid a visit to Jay (senior moderator / social marketing man for local LOLZ sites I Can Has Cheezburger and FailBlog) and his garden. We clipped a few sprigs, plopped Baby Z back into his seat and headed home for recipe making.

Our expertise on the Interwebs far surpasses our expertise in the kitchen, unfortunately (or, at least, Mr. Wallyhood’s expertise in the kitchen), so we can’t make any claims to have created something great. Here’s what we tried:

  • 1½ c plums
  • ½ c yogurt
  • 20 leaves mint
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 / tablespoon lime juice

We steeped the mint in a small bit of hot water to draw the flavor out, then poured the tea, with the other ingredients, into a blender.

Excellent, we thought, but not really soup. More like a mint plum lassi. We experimented with adding a bit of orange juice, but that left it tasting too much like a smoothie. Water enhanced the lassi-ness. As of this report, it’s in the freezer, waiting to try its hand at being a dessert.

No matter what ingredients we added, though, it tasted a whole lot like Wallingford: sweet.

Thanks Andrew and Jay!

  1. jp said,

    Sounds fantastic! We’re going to try to do some pickling/preserving of plums this year, and maybe a variation on umeboshi (we have the wrong kind of plum, but we’re thinking a sweet/sour plum paste):


    Wed, August 19 at 11:19 am
  2. Nancy M said,

    Mazurka story and recipe. My plum tree offering was unbelievable this year.
    Read the history: http://blog.seattlepi.com/print.asp?entryID=139722
    Plum Filling for Mazurkas (adapted from the above)
    12 small plums (adjust for larger ones), halved, skin on, pits in (keep count for later so no pits end up in conflict with teeth)
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons sugar
    Bring the plums and the water to a simmer, uncovered, in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat.
    Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the plum skins are very tender, about half an hour, depending on the plums. The fruit should be very soft and the water should be partially but not completely absorbed.
    Strain in a colander over a bowl and retrieve pits. Pour the plum goo into the bowl. Press the plums with a potato masher or stir and mash vigorously with a fork. The mixture should be very thick. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves.
    Cool to room temperature. If you wish, this filling may be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen in recipe-size amounts.

    Wed, August 19 at 11:30 am
  3. Barb said,

    Just a reminder for anyone who has more fruit than they can handle – tell your neighbors:

    If you have extra fruit or vegetables to donate and want someone else to pick it and donate it to local food banks or meal programs, contact Seattle Tilth at:

    [email protected] or 206-633-0224

    If you want to help harvest, contact Sadie Beauregard at: [email protected] or 206-694-6751

    More info at: http://www.solid-ground.org/programs/nutrition/fruittree/Pages/default.aspx

    My son and I just delivered 80 pounds of Italian plums and 120 pounds of Bartlett pears – picked yesterday afternoon in Wallingford – to the Cherry Street Food Bank. There was a long line of people waiting there to get food.

    Help us get the fruit off the trees and to people who need it!

    Wed, August 19 at 11:43 am
  4. Jayanne said,

    Hi, for a great plum jam recipe, go to http://recipes.chef2chef.net/recipe-archive/40/213023.shtml or search for “Lemon Zinger Jam”. It calls for golden plums but I have used Italian prune plums and other plums successfully. To make it truly eyes-roll-back-in-your-head swoon-alicious, add a teaspoonful of ginger when you add the other spices. I had never made jam before and felt like I hit the jackpot when I tried this recipe.

    One other tip: last summer I was too busy to make jam when the plums ripened. So as I picked the fruit over a week or two, I’d wash them, parboil them so their skins came off easily, remove the pits and throw the pulp into plastic bags in the freezer. Then when I had more time in the winter I defrosted the pulp and made jam that reminded me oh so fondly of summer.

    Wed, August 19 at 12:59 pm
  5. Wallyhood said,

    Of course, ginger!

    Also, I took a bunch of the pulp and did similar to Jayanne, except I froze it into ice cube trays. Perfect for dropping into the blender as a smoothie ingredient, or just as a plum popsicle treat.

    Wed, August 19 at 10:05 pm
  6. Anonymous said,

    So glad you harvested some of that fruit. We’ve been dodging the juicy remains on our daily walks and thought it was a shame to see such great looking fruit go to waste. Wish we would have had thought to ask if we could pick some, too.

    Sat, August 22 at 10:03 pm
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