Fall has finally arrived, and I already feel as though I’m starting to want to slow down a bit. Autumn always brings on those feelings of winding down and preparing to going within. The temperatures have dropped, and we’ve had rain the past few days, and so, I’ve retreated into the kitchen where it’s nice and cozy. We’ve recently received an abundance of Italian Prune Plums from our local CSA, and I wanted to do something simple, yet special with these little treats. You start to see prune plums by the end of summer and on into early fall, and I was excited to find that they showed up in our weekly box.
If you aren’t familiar with what a CSA is, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and is a way for people to purchase local and seasonal foods directly from a farm. You subscribe for a certain length of time, and then will receive a number of “shares” during that farming season. Each share consists of a number of fruits, vegetables, or other items that usually come in a box, bag or basket that you pick up at a designated location spot where the shares are delivered. Most CSA’s are available during the summer season when the bounty is abundant, but there are other’s that go all year long as well.
Many local farms host their own CSA’s. We currently subscribe to Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance located in Pittsburgh, Pa. I learned about CSA’s a few years ago when John and I first thought of moving. I stumbled upon Penn’s Corner website, quite by chance, swooned, and was dedicated at once. All I could think about was the excitement of picking up my weekly box and the surprise of finding what was inside! I liked the idea of a challenge to come up with simple recipes from fresh, seasonal ingredients, and possibly even learning about new ones; maybe items that I wouldn’t normally shop for in the market. All while supporting local farmers, which in my opinion, is a great thing! And remember, you don’t get to choose what’s in your box. It all depends on what is currently in season and ready to harvest that week. While we still lived in Portland, Oregon, we happily made the waiting list with Tumbleweed Farm’s CSA, and loved what they offered. I wanted to find someone local after discovering what CSA’s were all about. They supplied us with the most beautiful weekly produce during that summer before we moved, and are a super great couple who grow, harvest and continue sharing their love for all things fresh and nourishing. Taylor and Andrea are some of the best people that I’ve come to know through our experience.
It has been interesting to compare the two CSA’s, one definitely not being better than the other. Just different; with positivities and a great product offered from both. Rather than the produce coming from one farm, Penn’s Corner is a farmer-owned cooperative, which means that you receive items from several farms located all around Southwestern Pennsylvania. They consist of a group of more than 30 farms who participate. THAT seems like a WHOLE LOT! And… they offer additional shares such as their flower share, cheese share, meat shares, and yes, they have a winter share as well! We’ve been with them for nearly a year now, and are happily satisfied with what they’ve had to offered. We’ve received everything from what you would normally expect, such as lettuces, kale, tomatoes, potatoes, beets and onions, to several types of flours, farm fresh eggs, maple syrup, and we even receive the current issues of our local Table Magazine. Oh. I should mention that I’m also mad about their salsa. They often have canned and jarred items included in the winter shares as well. And to my sweet surprise, I’ve recently found an abundance of Italian Prune Plums show up!
Italian Prune Plums are also sometimes called Empress Plums. They are a small egg shaped fruit with a blue or purple skin, and sometimes have a powdery white substance on its outside called a “bloom”. The yellow flesh is firm and dense and has a pit that’s easily removed. Just cut them in half and gently pull it out. No problem. These are the plums that are generally made into prunes, but I prefer to bake with them. They are wonderful and delicious when cooked, and turn the most bright and beautiful shade of fuchsia. Because of their low water content, cooking them allows the fruit to somewhat keep their shape. And with a flavor that has both a sweet and sour taste combined, it makes them perfect for an early fall treat. I figured that making a simple compote using the plums for a crumbled oat bar would be the perfect option! And adding the rosemary to the plum compote is one way to up your flavor profile by enhancing the fruit with a subtle, but sharp, piney taste. By adding the stem directly to the pot without separating the leaves of the rosemary, you add just a slight hint and scent to the flavor. And I mean seriously, who doesn’t love a good crumble?
- 12-15 ripe Italian prune plumbs
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- juice from one lemon
- 1 tsp cornstarch (optional)
- 3/4 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- Cut the plums into quarters, removing the pits.
- Combine the sugar, and water, in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Bring to a boil. Once dissolved, add the plums into the pot along with the rosemary and lemon juice. Reduce heat to low.
- Cook compote, stirring occasionally, until the fruits soften and compote thickens, but plums remain intact— about 15 minutes. Once they have softened, add the cornstarch if you desire a thicker sauce.
- Remove rosemary and allow compote to cool completely.
- Pour into a container and cover; set aside or refrigerate until ready to use. May be made up to 2 days prior to making bars.
- Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a 9×9-inch square pan with a non-stick cooking spray, then line with parchment paper.
- Combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix together using your hands. Add butter until it has come together in a crumbly mixture. Add 2/3 of the crumb mixture to the bottom of the prepared pan and firmly pat down.
- Place plum compote into the prepared pan.
- Add remaining crumb mixture on top of the plums. Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a until golden brown.
- Let bars completely cool. Cut into 9-12 piece squares and serve and enjoy!
- Store at room temperature or in the fridge.
I hope that you enjoy these bars as much as I did! I’m thinking of making another bath, I loved them THAT much. Let me know your thoughts… And also, share what your favorite fall treat to make is! I’d love to hear from you.