If in doubt: never eat an unripe plum. My test for ripeness is to check for softness and to peel the skin. If the whole skin peels off effortlessly, then your plum is perfect. It must feel not too hard and not too squishy. Even if it seems just a tad on the hard side, leave it an extra day.

And what what do with all those gorgeous Dutch plums? Plums are the perfect companions for any sort of buttery cake or pastry, even better in a warm crumble with custard on the side or a clafoutis. Plums love hearty spices like cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, and cloves and find a best friend in toasted almonds or hazelnuts. In short, the perfect feel-good fruit to get you through the first chilly autumn days.

But my latest discovery for using plums is not sweet: from the 6 kilos that I bought from the orchard (what was I thinking..?) a big chunk went into making plum chutney and plum sauce. Stewed for 3 hours until almost jam-like, with spices, and tons of fresh ginger, the chutney is a party in your mouth: it’s sweet, sour, salty and spicy all at once. Perfect accompaniments for aged cheese or meat. And forget about the sickly sweet manufactured Chinese plum sauce: make your own. Perfect with Peking-style duck pancakes or roast pork belly. So who wants to come over for dinner?



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