How to harvest Wild Plum Pit “Nuts” and feature them in a delicious summer salad!
This salad reminds me of mountain range. It starts off with a peak of fresh summer lettuce greens tossed in a a floral vinaigrette made from cherry pits and white wine vinegar that seriously tastes like cherry blossoms, mix in sliced wild plums, crisp cucumber, radishes, wild huckleberries, toasted wild plum pit “nuts”, finally crumble on a little goat cheese to cascade down like snow. This is my theme salad for this summer. We eat variations of this salad many times a week.
First let’s talk about the dressing. This summer I saved the cherry pits that were leftover when I made this pie cherry jam, and put them into bottles of white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. I averaged about 1 cup of pits to 2 cups of vinegar, but you can use up to 4 cups of vinegar per 1 cup of pits. I let them marinate for a couple days on the counter, and then put into the fridge for a few weeks. After a few weeks, a heavenly taste of cherry blossoms is infused into your vinegar. I discard the pits and keep the cherry pit vinegar in the fridge to use on salads, my plum ketchup, and in marinades. It’s a flavorful treat I highly recommend. You can read notes on the internet that report cherry pits contain cyanide, but I have concluded it is such an insignificant amount that ends up in my salad dressing that I am no concerned in the least about it. Though to be on the safe side, do not use crushed or broken cherry pits, just the whole ones.
To really amplify the cherry flavor in one of my infusions I added in a cup of crushed cherry fruit with the whole cherry pits in a couple of cups of balsamic vinegar and let that marinate for a week in the fridge. Sooooo delightful!
On a recent trip to Idaho we a treasure of wild plums growing along the banks of the Clearwater River. And just this past week I found more wild plum trees loaded with fruit just down the road from our house here in Oregon. In my new favorite wild foraging book, “Forgaging the Mountain West” (highly recommended book for anyone interested in edible adventures!!), I read about a fun little trick of cracking open the plum pits to find the plum pit nuts inside. They are the size of a pine nut with a very strong taste of bitter almond. They actually look and taste like mini bitter almonds. It is suggested to heat the plum pit nuts to break down the cyanide compounds. So make sure to heat or toast your little plum pit nuts. And if you find some growing near you be sure to also check out my recipe for wild roasted plum salsa over grilled salmon.
My favorite book for delicious foraging adventures!
In the photo you can see the slices of fresh wild plums, and then the normal kinda slimy pits you find inside of a plum. You then can see how I took a pair of vice grips and crack open the pit to find a mini almond like nut inside. Then I toasted the plum pit nuts in a dry pan over medium low heat for a few minutes to cook off the cyanide, which is natural defense mechanism the plant creates to preserve the seeds for planting. In Foraging the Mountain West it mentions that you can also make almond flavored extracts with the plum nuts, which I plan to try too. You will be surprised how much those little nuts taste just like bitter almonds! I only recommend the pit nuts you get from wild plums, as when we taste tested the plum pit nuts from the cultivated plums growing in our yard the pits were too chalky and did not taste as delightful.
And just like almonds there is little to no starch in the little nuts, just a little starch in the thin nut skin which easily pops off after toasting.
Summer Salad with Toasted Plum Pit Nuts in a Cherry Pit Vinaigrette
- 6 cups of mixed greens
- 3/4 cup wild plums, pits set aside
- 2 oz of goat cheese
- 1/2 cup cucumber slices
- 2 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 Tablespoon of wild plum pit nuts (see directions above)
- 1/4 cup dried cherries or dried plums
- 1/4 cup huckleberries, if available (or blueberries)
Cherry Pit Vinaigrette
- 2 Tablespoons cherry pit vinegar (see directions above) or any light vinegar
- 2 to 6 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- pinch of sea salt
- Harvest plum pit nuts, see notes above. Lightly toast the nuts over low/medium heat until they are fully cooked. The size and texture reminds me of pine nuts, but the flavor tastes like an almond.
- Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, honey and sea salt to make a salad dressing. You can add up to 6 Tablespoons olive oil, but I like the cherry pit vinegar to shine through so I use just 2 Tablespoons of oil.
- Toss salad greens in vinaigrette and then arrange greens on two serving plates.
- Add remaining salad ingredients in the order they are listed.
- Serve and enjoy!
Shared at Waste Not Want Not Wednesday