Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mystery Solved: Sliva Crumble

Sliva tree in Daniel's yard, November 2010.
Last week I published a report on my friend Daniel's Mystery Fruit Crumble and said I hoped he'd call me before he made it again.  And he did.

Daniel first showed me the tree that this mystery fruit came from.  It's a funny little tree, squeezed in his side yard.  Not much to look at, truth be told, but it sure bears a lot of fruit.  The funny thing is that it doesn't seem like fruit you'd want to eat.  Daniel has decided that this fruit is called sliva, which is Bulgarian for "plum".  The sliva, as we will now refer to them, are green and hard as rocks when they come off the tree.  Daniel says they never ripen in the normal sense, meaning they never change color or get soft.  But the squirrels love them.  Eventually Daniel decided to take a cue from the squirrels and give them a try.

Daniel sections off the silva.
He showed me how he gets the fruit peeled away from the pit, which was easier than I expected.  He doesn't bother to peel the skin off, but he does cut the fruit of the sliva off into six sections and then pulls the flesh off in chunks.  The skin is a little hairy like a peach, but it's thin enough to be unobjectionable when baked in a crumble.

Unless you're a squirrel, you wouldn't want to eat a sliva raw.  We tried it and it wasn't good.  Tart and crunchy, but not very tasty.  Not disgusting, but not good either.  After trying a raw sliva, I wasn't so sure if the sliva crumble would be any good, but I'd come with the express purpose of trying the Mystery Crumble and I wasn't going to back out now.  I was sure it wouldn't be inedible, but I wasn't holding out much hope for a fabulous taste sensation.

Disastrous crumble topping on sliva crumble.
Daniel also warned me that the topping on this second crumble was "an unmitigated disaster". I must admit that this was true.  Daniel is a great baker and he told me exactly where he went wrong the second time around.  "I shouldn't have added the milk without also adding baking powder".  I agree.  You can find his original recipe (minus the milk mistake) in the original post.  But the baked sliva fruit itself was a pleasant surprise.

Once baked, sliva is completely transformed.  The color of the fruit is like a green gage plum, but it holds up much better to cooking than a plum.  The texture is like that of a peach and just as delicious.  It's not as sweet as a peach and since Daniel doesn't tend to make supers-sweet baked goods, the taste of the sliva itself really came through.  It didn't hurt that he topped it with sour cream.  I have to admit that I wouldn't fight the squirrels for them (too much trouble to cut them up), but the next time Daniel makes a sliva crumble, I'll be the first person in line with an empty bowl.
Delicious sliva crumble, topped with sour cream, November 2010.