Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Plum Tarragon Tartine Spread

The flavor of summer, well preserved

Tartine is what the french call their lovely little open faced sandwiches, stacked with ingredients which offer a complexity of tastes and textures.

This ruby colored spread brings a complementary sweetness to any combination of savory cheeses and meats.

The herbal, fruity taste is splendid served simply with a smudge of goat cheese on a crispy cracker.

A bowlful of ruby goodness brings a sweet dimension to your cheese and pate platter. It can be dolloped on top or blended with mayo or mustard and spread on the bread or cracker before building.

Our tray has goat cheese, country pate, coppa, salami and a nutty alpine cheese. Bowls of cornichons, salty olives and dijon mustard round out the taste experience. A sliced seeded baguette and thin pepper crackers are the foundation for guests' creations.

For a tasty lunch or snack, try it with sliced, roasted turkey breast and cheddar.

When plums are plentiful, we like to "put up" a batch of this spread. It is great to have some on hand in the pantry and some to give as a gifts in pretty jars. The spread can be canned, which will allow the fruit to last for at least a year at room temperature, or stored in jars in the refrigerator for 3-5 weeks.

We've used mostly Greengage plums in our batch, we love the flavor - sort of a honey sweetness with a twinge of tartness.

A couple of purple Italian plums were dropped into the mix for a nice blush of color.


7 pounds of slightly cooked plums (this was the weight after pits and skins were removed).
7 pounds of granulated sugar
1 cup fresh tarragon leaves
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (optional)


Simmer the plums with a small amount of water until soft (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Remove visible skins and pits. A “jelly bag” was used to separate the juice from the pulp, allowing us to easily remove pits and skins. Juice and pulp were combined again before weighing and before continuing the cooking process.

Weigh the cooked plums and add to it the same amount of sugar in weight.

Cook the plums and sugar together at a rapid boiling point for about 40 minutes.

To test for doneness, place a plate in the refrigerator. Spoon some of the spread onto the plate and return to the refrigerator for about 5 minutes. Take the spoon from the refrigerator and tilt it. The mixture should hold to the plate and slightly wrinkle.

Stir the tarragon leaves into the hot mixture.

Fill jars with plum tarragon mixture.

If you'd like a little spice, add a slice or two of jalapeno peppers to some of the jars before processing.

Fill jars with this bubbly sweetness, seal and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

A little jargon on jars
Before you start -- jars need to be sterilized. This can be done by placing them in boiling water for 15 minutes (store them on a clean dishtowel until ready to use); or by placing them in a 225 degree oven until needed or running them through the dishwasher. Jars should be packed while they are still hot. Be sure to sterilize lids, clips and rings as well.
We're always looking for interesting canning jars to use. The standard Kerr or Ball jars, with screw on metal lids and bands can be found at grocery stores (they are also available in Splendid Items on this site). These work well for our splendid market pantry. Ball also has an informative website with video instructions on canning and preserving. Click here to visit.

For gifts we like using the pretty shaped Weck jars from Germany (front and center in the photo), which we have found at kitchen stores. Glass-topped clamp close jars (in the back, far left in these photos) are also attractive for gifts or home use.
Le Parfait brand jars are from France and Fido brand clamp jars (or wire bail or gasket and lid jars) are from Italy.
There are many different sizes and shapes of these jars available in Splendid Items on this page.
Other critical equipment to have on hand include a large straight sided pot for sterilizing empty jars and processing filled jars in a boiling water bath.
A "lifter" will allow you to safely remove and place jars in the hot water. Pots, lifters and complete canning kits are all available in the Splendid Items "shop" on this page.
Let the canning begin!!

Pretty packaging for gifts can be made from a softer paper (hand made paper from art supply stores works well) and simple twine. Use a bowl of a suitable size as a template to mark a round piece of paper.

Cut out the paper circle, write the name of the food, date of production and perhaps your name on the paper. Fold down the sides and tie it with several strings of twine.
This is on the simple side -- more colorful paper and string can be used.
Also, fun commercial labels can be found.
We hope you can enjoy the satisfying experience of "preserving" this fall.

Click on the foodista widget below to print a copy of this recipe.

Plum Tarragon Tartine Spread on Foodista

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