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Easy and Healthy Cooking With Plum Wine

by Mary Strain

If your kids are determined to have a sweet element to their meals, try making sauces from plum wines. People have been making plum wines for thousands of years. The Japanese are perhaps the best-known producers; Japanese plum wine is called "ume-shu," since it's made from Ume plums and shochu, a white liquor. Plum wine is light and sweet, sometimes described as a dessert wine, and can be used in any dish that goes well with a sweet sauce.

Pork

Marinate a pork loin in plum wine, garlic and ginger. Combine some cubed pork and chopped figs with some plum wine in a casserole dish and bake. Add some carrot juice halfway through cooking for additional sweetness. Thicken the sauce after roasting the pork by heating it to boiling in a pan to reduce it, adding a small amount of cornstarch dissolved in water if necessary. Don't worry about the alcohol in the plum wine; it will evaporate during cooking. Serve with a simple tossed salad with creamy dressing to round out the meal.

Duck

Use plum wine as the base for a duck marinade, as well as the base for plum sauce to top the meat. The Food Network website suggests marinating the duck overnight in plum wine, scallions, spices and ginger. When you're ready to prepare the duck, pan-sear the duck breast until brown and cook it in the oven for 10 minutes. Add a mixture of plum wine and duck stock sauce to the pan, and reduce the sauce until thick, then add some butter or margarine.

Veggies

Plum wine may serve as the base for healthy vegetable soups, such as mushroom and plum-wine consommes. For a sweet carrot side dish, simmer carrot rounds in water, plum wine and brown sugar until tender.

Pasta

Dress up your marinara sauce by mixing crushed tomatoes, sauteed onion, garlic, plum wine and basil or parsley. Simmer for about 30 minutes before serving over your favorite whole-wheat pasta. Add meatballs if desired, or keep it vegetarian by adding chopped zucchini or carrots, both of which pair well with the sweetness the plum wine brings to the sauce.

Desserts

Make some adult-only, scrumptious desserts using plum wine. Make a plum wine jelly dessert to serve in wine glasses topped with cream. Plum wine also can be used to make plum wine-based ice cream, sherberts or sorbets, or in sweet sauces to pour over them. For a kid-friendly alternative, use plum puree in the sorbet without the wine -- the kids will get brightly colored sorbet without the alcohol. Cook plum wine in combination with brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger as a sweet sauce for quick stir-fried orange slices for a fast, family friendly dessert.

About the Author

Mary Strain's first byline appeared in "Scholastic Scope Magazine" in 1978. She has written continually since then and has been a professional editor since 1994. Her work has appeared in "Seventeen Magazine," "The War Cry," "Young Salvationist," "Fireside Companion," "Leaders for Today" and "Creation Illustrated." She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.

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