Urban Sidewalk Gleaning - Prune Plums (Gluten-Free Plum Tart with Goat Cheese and Juniper)

So much of the joy of foraging for me is the connection it has created between me and the place that I live. But sometimes, it's just plain fun to find food, especially when it would otherwise go to waste. Take, for example, these gorgeous Italian prune plums (Prunus sp.) that I found laying in the gutter while riding (yes, that's two gutter-forage recipes in a row!). These plums most definitely aren't native to my area; they're a tree that someone planted as an ornamental.

At first, there were just a few scattered along the ground, here and there, and I'd pick them up for a bike snack. But then they hit full ripeness, and the weather started getting cold. And one day, I was able to pick up more than I could fit in my bike bag!

It's perfectly legal to pick up fruit from the sidewalk or street. But don't take my word for it; always be familiar with the laws in your area. And if you see a tree whose fruit isn't being eaten, don't be afraid to knock on the owner's door, or leave them a note, and ask if you could have permission to harvest. More often than not, the owners are more than happy to see the fruit go to good use, and sometimes they're just happy not to have so much mess to clean up from the fallen fruit. It can be a real win-win, and I it never hurts to ask.

When I got my plums home, it was really a toss up as to whether I wanted stuff them into my pie-hole one after the other (tem-p-ting!), or to spend an entire afternoon photographing them (also tempting). In the end, compromise all around! I ate a bunch of them while enjoying a patch of sun, snapped off a few lovely pics, and then, decided to get all fancy and make a tart.

As usual, I winged the recipe, but it turned out beautifully. I swear, you can do it, too! The crust was light and shortbread-y, the filling had just the right note of complexity with the juniper and goat cheese, and the plums added a juicy sweetness.

To make the crust, pulse together in a food processor approximately 3/4 c. each almond meal, and coconut flour, a few large pinches of salt, and a tablespoon of palm sugar. Start adding cubes of cold butter, and continue to pulse, add butter cubes, pulse, until the mixture resembles wet sand. At this point, add an egg and let the food processor run for a few seconds. The dough should have enough moisture to come together into a ball. If not, add a touch of ice cold milk or water until it does. Alternately, if the dough is too wet, add some more coconut flour. Press the crust into a tart shell, and refrigerate.

To make the custard, in a heavy saucepan, combine 1 c. whole milk and 1/2 c. cream with 10 crushed juniper berries, a pinch of salt, and a few scratches of lemon zest. Let simmer on low for 15 minutes, to develop flavor, then strain through a sieve, and return to the pan. Off the heat, slowly whisk in 3 egg yolks and a few tablespoons of goat chevre, then return the pan to medium-low heat and continue whisking until thick. If the custard doesn't thicken to the consistency of a pudding, add a few spoonfuls of arrowroot mixed with water until it tightens up. Remove from heat, and stir in a few drops of vanilla. Let cool to room temperature.

Once the custard is cooled, you're ready to assemble the tart. Pour the custard into the crust, and spread evenly. Artfully place halved plum, skin-side down, into the custard. Sprinkle the top and crust with a touch of sugar, then bake in a 300 degree (F) oven for 30 minutes, or until the crust starts to take on a bit of brown and the plums start to ooze.

It gives me so much pleasure to make something so beautiful out of what was once considered trash!

If you're interested, I made a wonderful ketchup out of wild plums, and I've got a savory recipe that uses juniper berries - juniper-rubbed dove kebabs.

By sheer coincidence, Fairybekk at Cauldrons and Crockpots made a plum tart today, too! She's included a really interesting description of the different types of pastries, so go have a look and try her Rustic Plum Tart, too!

I'm submitting this recipe to Real Food Deals at Premeditated Leftovers, Gluten-Free Wednesday at the Gluten-Free Homemaker, Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, and Pennywise Platter Thursday at the Nourishing Gourmet (congrats, girl!). If you love a good blog carnival like I do, please visit the links.


  1. Butter - you totally made something beautiful and nutritious and delicious out of what most of us would think of as trash, if we thought of it at all. You inspire me to at least acknowledge all the food possibilities around me!

  2. Another beautiful example of how things use to be, and can be again. thanks.

  3. The plums are beautiful! And your tart looks divine - I thought you said you weren't a baker!?! You sure look like a good one to me! I am going to try your recipe. I bet it could easily be adapted to whatever fruit is in season.

  4. I love this post -last year my neighbor gave me permission to pick his grapes. I still have many jars of canned grape juice and grape jelly.
    I just knocked on his door and asked. I made him a grape vine wreath decorated with fall flowers and he loved it. The Tart sounds wonderful.

  5. Thanks, Alea :) I guess I can bake pretty well, I just don't have the urge very often.

    Vickie - How fun to have grapes so close by, and very generous of you to make the wreath. No doubt you'll have grapes for years to come.

  6. You have me thinking, too, about keeping my eye out for fruit going to waste. What a great idea. Your tart looks lovely. Thanks for participating in Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

  7. That's so awesome! Plums are a favorite of mine...but I rarely see any locally...unless it's at the farmer's market or over the border in Michigan. I made a rustic plum tart with some varities I found last year...so awesome, too (http://www.girlichef.com/2009/07/rustic-plum-ginger-and-almond-tart-for.html) plums and tarts go hand in hand ;)

  8. How serendipitous! The plums look gorgeous although what you did with them is even more so. Good stuff.

  9. J- It's nearly nov in the Rockies, and I'm still bringing home more fruit than I know how to deal with! More gleaned fruit recipes to come :)

  10. Thank you so much for your kind comments on my blog! :)

    This recipe sounds mouth watering! I don't buy plums often because I don't have many recipes for them, but this is definitely something I'll try out.

  11. Ah, i takes gutter trash to know gutter trash! LOL KIDDING! What a lovely recipe and amazing find. Seriously, right now the major fruit available is Kuza dogwood fruits that are red and filled with a creamy custardy meat. I am wondering what on earth to do with them! Will tweet this for ya baby, my site is down right now due to hosting...so if you need me, tweet me. Have a great weekend! Alex

  12. Aurelia - Plums do lovely things in the oven. I like that they bleed their pretty color in a tart. They also make a nice crisp/crumble.

    Alex- That sounds amazing!!! I saw a dogwood here the other day (no big fruit), and it had a pink flag tied around it, which means it had been marked for removal. Dogwoods are considered an invasive species here.


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