Duchess Plums: Plums Steeped in Black Tea

I am not sure if any of you have experience on San Francisco’s Muni so let me paint a picture for you. It goes everywhere and often, it is very convient and most people take public transportation; businessmen, housewives, students, aspiring food writers and that guy’s grandma all take muni. No one talks though. Most people have their headphones on, there might be a few people reading but everyone is trying NOT to make eye contact, just in case that crack head wants to cuss you out, or that sweet old lady tries to save you, and no I can’t give you a twenty for $19.33 but please don’t do voodoo on me.
Recently a lot of people have been talking to me and they all want to ask me the same question.

“Oh, what is this book I’m reading? It’s by Russ Parsons and its called How to Pick a Peach. You want to know what it is about? Well you see, it’s about how to pick a peach.  No this inch and a half read is not a metaphor it is literally *pause for effect* about how to pick a peach. Like you’re standing in the produce section and there are 10,000 peaches in front of you and your pulse starts to race and you have to pick one, but how to do you know it’s right. Well this book tells you. It will reduce your produce section anxiety.” That’s usually when they spot another open seat, but I get asked at least once on each bus trip, so I have my little spiel down. 
So although it is stone fruit season in California and it’s a really good book, I’ll save you the trouble of looking like a crazy on Muni and give you some tips on how to pick a peach. 

The background color of the fruit should be golden more orange than greenish and peaches should look like they are blushing, be slightly firm and have a floral aroma. When choosing most of your fruit, smell is the best indicator of ripeness. If they are a little under ripe when you by them, leave them at room temperature or store them in a paper bag to speed up ripening.  
Peaches, Nectarines, apricots, cherry and plums. All in season now and although they are amazing all by themselves there are so many delicious things you can use these fruits for.

I will just give you a quick and simple recipe for when you buy more plums than you can stand. You know what I’m talking about, you live alone are you really going to eat 17 plums? No you are not, you’re going to eat like 8 and then want to throw the rest out of your window, but don’t, steep them in tea instead. It’s fancy and you won’t be wasting all those black beauties you had to buy a week ago. Thankfully this recipe is best made with slightly overripe fruit.

  • 6 Black Plums (They can be red or champagne color inside)
  • 2 Bag earl Grey Tea (I only use “Duchess” from Trader Joes, hence the name)
  • 1 Ts. Dried Lavender
  • 2 Ts. Vanilla
  • ¼ Cup Sugar (more or less on how thick you want the syrup)
  • ¼ Cup Water

Chop your plums, I am going to use half red half, champagne plums but you can use whatever kind you think are best. Then put them in a sauce pan on low heat, cover with water and sugar. Add Dried lavender, vanilla and tea from the tea bags, yes that means cut open the tea bags. Let simmer for about twenty minutes, mixing occasionally to incorporate the ingredients.

The liquid will thicken and turn the most beautiful color. Jar these babies up and savor.

I recommend Duchess Plums to be served over plain yogurt, oatmeal, ice cream or hey it would probably even be good on a steak. Like that Fancy Blueberry Redux Filet Mignon that they have in Florence, but hey, a little too “interesting” for you? (My grandma always says my food is “interesting” which obviously means she thinks its weird and doesn’t want to eat it, but she tries to make it sound like a compliment, so its ok.) Stick with sweets; I am sure you’ll find lots of things to dress with these little beauties.

Craving more crazy Muni stories, there is a weekly support group here in the city or check out this website:  www.munidiaries.com

Also goes well with dusty rose victorians


  1. Sounds fabulous! I think I am going to serve this over a filet mignon. I am cooking Tom dinner soon ;) He'll enjoy it! This is a French idea for sure I know I have seen Plums and Steak maybe with apples as well. I am going to make one with the Earl grey and one with some other spice to make it slightly more savory! Ohhhhh so exciting!!! I coook so much out of color. I love bright colorful dishes. I want to start a blog now hahaha!!!!

  2. Hi Rhiana,

    I'm trying this out using an Oolong and delicious plums. I think I'll use them with a dessert of some sort.