It’s getting hot again, my friends: 95 degrees is tomorrow’s forecast in my tree-lined corner of New York. To me, this is becoming an annoyingly recurring theme: I mean, there are only so many lime popsicles a girl can eat before she starts craving real food. Luckily, a few days ago when it wasn’t quite so hot (a mere 87 degrees!), I simmered up a big batch of chile verde, with Flying Pigs pork shoulder and chile verde base put up last Fall. That same night, I decided it was time to do something with the pound of Shiro plums I had brought home from the farmer’s market last week: they had gone from mostly-yellow to decidedly plummy-pink in the course of a few warm days on the countertop and it was time to enjoy them before they went south in the heat. At that very same farmer’s market, I picked up some early-season corn: white corn, as it turns out (which I didn’t know when I was buying it, because I refuse to pre-shuck: farmers have to sell that corn, you know), that I got too lazy to grill, and that also sat on the counter, getting a little wrinkly and dry, and chastising me as I went about my week, steadfastly ignoring their whispers of “use me up!“
And so, as it happens most nights ’round these parts, I took inventory of what needed using (plums, corn, cilantro), added a few things to round it out (peppers and onion), tied it together with some flavorings (lime, cumin, chile) and called it dinner. In this instance, the plum & corn salsa was served over chile verde and rice, so it was actually quite a balanced meal: but I’d be lying if I said tortilla chips, plum salsa & a beer isn’t just as likely to be dinner on another night, especially a hell-n0-it’s-95-degrees-I’m-not-turning-on-the-stove night.
It’s hard to describe how good fresh fruit salsa is to someone who hasn’t had it. In a way, it’s a completely different animal from a cooked salsa: more watery, yes, but also brighter, crunchier, each flavor more distinct and able to play off of each other, instead of having blended and mellowed over the course of cooking, or sitting on the shelf in the case of a canned salsa. It’s more like a savory fruit salad, I guess: but lime, cilantro and cumin give it that distinct salsa flavor. This one is pretty fantastic: I’ve made two batches in the last few days, and I picked up more Shiro plums at the Rhinebeck market this weekend so that I could make it again. This is also one of the few fruit salsas I’ve had that improves with age. Most fresh salsas benefit from at least a little marinating time, but this one was actually better the next day, after a night in the fridge: more limey, more complex, the plums had semi-dissolved into the acidic lime juice and everything was a bit thicker and more flavorful. And I’m here to report that it is excellent cold, straight from the fridge, because: 95 degrees. If that’s not an excuse to eat plum salsa for dinner, I don’t know what is.
- one ear of corn, preferably white
- zest + juice of 1 large lime
- 1 lb Shiro plums, rinsed, halved, pitted and diced
- 1/2 red onion, diced to 1/-4 inch
- 1 sweet green pepper, diced (I used Cubanelle)
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced, without seeds (add seeds back in for extra heat)
- 1 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Husk the corn, wrap in a clean, wet tea towel, and microwave on high for 1 minute. Allow to steam in the towel while you prep the other ingredients. Alternatively, steam or boil the corn in water on the stove top, or if it’s fresh enough, use it raw.
- Combine lime zest, juice and plums in a medium bowl, tossing to coat plums (and prevent browning). Add onion, peppers, salt, cumin and cayenne pepper. Cut corn kernels off the cob and add to the salsa. Taste and adjust seasonings (add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar if needed). For best taste, allow to blend and mellow at room temperature for an hour or so, or refrigerated overnight. Add fresh cilantro, toss and serve.
- I used white corn because it was what I had, but the color played nicely against the yellow plums. If you can’t source it, yellow corn will work fine.
- For the cilantro-adverse, try fresh basil instead.
- Fresh lime is important here: the lime flavor really comes through, especially on the second day.
- Obviously, you can try this with any variety of plum, but I would choose a variety on the tart end, rather than a very sweet plum.
- I did eventually pH test this recipe and found it to be a plenty-safe-for-water-bath-canning pH of 2.8 – 3.0 (two batches tested, both chunky & pureed). I doubled the batch above: 2 lbs plums, at least 1/2 cup lime juice, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, about 1/2 cup each of red onion and green pepper + jalapeno. Let blend overnight in the fridge. Then bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in about 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, simmer 1 more minute, then ladle into hot jars to 1/2 inch. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes. Yield was 7 half-pints. Of course you lose the vibrant colors, and it is not as chunky & thick as the fresh version, but we shall see how it holds up on the shelf. I’ll report back once I crack a jar open later in the year. CYA DISCLAIMER: I am not a food scientist, nor a Master Food Preserver, nor equipped with a full lab and rigorous testing protocols. What I am is a geek with a cheap pH meter and a basic knowledge of microbiology. While I am confident that this recipe is safe as written, as with all home canning recipes, you should judge for yourself whether you are comfortable with the safety of the recipe.
One of the few fresh salsas that seems to store well, this was actually more tasty on the second day. Two to three days, refrigerated.