About a week ago I was in town and needed to buy some fruit and veg. I nipped into the nearest grocers, which happened to be one of Cambridge’s fabulous Middle Eastern shops. But when I got to the till, my purchases didn’t quite come to £5, which was the minimum for a credit card purchase. So, I quickly looked around and grabbed what I thought was a punnet of greengages, to make up the difference.
Once home, I realised my mistake. These weren’t greengages, they were small, unripe, sour green plums! Picked early, before they have time to mature and develop, these fruits are a seasonal treat across the Middle East. They are usually eaten raw, dipped into salt, or else pickled. I tried one raw, but to my untrained palate it was much too sour! I consulted an Israeli friend, and she encouraged me to have a go at pickling, instead.
There are numerous ways to pickle green plums, and a quick google search revealed regional variations from Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Morocco and more*. In the end, I settled on this simple recipe from Creative Jewish Mom, which is based on one from her husband’s Moroccan family. I didn’t fancy the chilis though, and was going to use an un flavoured brine, but at the last minute I threw in some coriander seeds and star anise. You know I can never leave anything plain, right?!
These pickled green plums were so simple to make, and they looked amazing – the plums are so very fresh and green and vibrant! I can see why these are seen as a herald of Spring 🙂 After a week, I tentatively opened the jar and tried a pickled plum…
And it was delicious! Seriously good. I could probably have munched down half the jar, but I managed to control myself so that I could take some photos! As you can see, the once-green plums have changed colour somewhat, losing their bright green hue and becoming a mellow brownish yellow. They have also lost their overpowering sourness, taking on a wonderful sour-salt-spicy flavour while retaining their fabulous crunch.
I think these pickled green plums will be great with cheeses or humous, as part of a picnic or mezze platter, as the garnish in a dry martini, or anywhere you might serve olives or capers. Or you can just chomp them straight from the jar!
I don’t know how long the sour green plum season lasts, so look out for them now in your local Middle Eastern shops.
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- 200-250g unripe sour green plums
- 1.5 tbsp coarse salt
- 1 star anise
- 0.5 tsp coriander seeds
- Boiled water
- Wash the plums. Using a sharp knife score a line around each plum.
- Sterilise a medium jar with boiling water. Pack the prepared plums into the jar.
- Add the salt, star anise and coriander seeds to the jar, then poured boiled (but slightly cooled) water to fill the jar. Screw the lid on tightly.
- All the water to cool completely, then put the jar in the fridge and allow to pickle for at least a week.
- Eat and enjoy!
- Store the pickled plums in the fridge once the jar has been opened.
If you’re wondering what I did with the remaining plums in the punnet, I cooked them up with some sugar to make a green plum compote. It wasn’t bad, but the pickled green plums were better!