Last week I read about gojeh sabz, Persian green plums, in one of my Persian cookbooks. The author wrote that every spring as a child, she looked forward to eating tart, unripe plums. I was intrigued, but assumed that it was a taste I’d never know firsthand. Then I went to Kalustyan’s to pick up a few things.
There by the register was a huge crate of green plums! I felt my heart swell with love for Kalustyan’s. I asked the lady behind the counter who was a native of India what to do with them, and she said in her country they pickle them. Great idea.
I bought a half pound of the plums and a bag of fragrant dried mint leaves, a staple in my kitchen.
I decided to make the simplest pickle I could think of, using some of the dried mint and some crushed garlic cloves. Before pickling the plums, I scored them a few times with a fork, so the pickling liquid could penetrate.
I put a handful of the mint and the crushed garlic in a pot with a cup of white wine vinegar, a splash of water, a teaspoon of kosher salt, and a quarter cup of maple syrup. I avoid using white sugar whenever possible, so I decided to sweeten the pickles with maple syrup instead. I brought the mixture to a boil, simmered it for a minute, then poured it over the plums.
The pickles smelled amazing, a lot like torshi, Persian style pickles, which have a strong acidic taste. I put them in the fridge overnight, and now I have a delicious batch of pickles that are crisp, tangy, and sweet. I can’t even taste the maple syrup. If you’re not in New York, the plums are sold in Persian and Middle Eastern food stores at this time of year. At My Persian Kitchen, I read that they are sold at farmer’s markets in Southern California, including Torrance and Santa Monica. If you can’t find gojeh sabz, try this with grapes or unripe apricots.