Their season is short, their taste imbeds in your memory forever! Developed by Massachusetts transplant and world renown botanist, Luther Burbank, the Santa Rosa Plum is perhaps the most aromatic of all the plums on the market. It’s delicious to eat right off the tree; be prepared for its juices to run down your hand. Bite in and the sweetness explodes, until it changes to a tart, slightly sour taste as you near the pit.
For dessert, try this Santa Rosa Sensation- a cold fruit soup I made from these garnet-colored jewels. In a 2-quart saucepan, place 12 Santa Rosa plums, bruised or cut into a few pieces. Add 1 cup sugar and cover with purified or spring water just to the top the plums. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, allowing some of the steam to escape. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until the fruit is soft and separates from the pits.
Puree the cooked fruit through a sieve and toss the pits. Set aside a half cup of the liquid and mix in 2 generous tablespoons cornstarch. When smooth, add that to the rest of the plums, bring to a boil again, lower the heat and cook until the cornstarch mixture is thick and clear. Set aside to cool. Add some read food coloring if you want to enhance the color. (That may or may not be needed.) Serve at room temperature or cold, with 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream (not whipped). A summer treat!
Among Burbank’s more famous creations are the Elberta Freestone Peach and the Burbank Russet Potato, the most widely used potato in the processed food industry. Most of the McDonald’s potatoes are of this variety. Burbank was not as successful with his spineless cactus, a joint venture with Jack London about 100 years ago. The spineless cactus was to be the answer to cheap and nutritious cattle feed, but that did not prove to be the case. Well, you can’t win them all. The Santa Rosa plum alone would have been enough of an achievement. Thank you, Mr. Burbank.