There are some gorgeous plums in the markets. The best ones for cooking are the denser, drier varieties; the others give off too much juice when cooked. But the juicier varieties make a great sorbet. Make a sugar syrup by boiling 500ml of water with 375 grams of granulated sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature then chill. Blanch plums in boiling water for 30 seconds then peel off the skins (they should slip off easily). Remove the pits and puree the fruit in a food processor. Measure the plum puree and stir with an equal amount of sugar syrup, then add fresh lemon juice to taste - the mixture should be tart and refreshing. Process in an ice cream freezer according to manufacturer's directions. If there's any remaining sugar syrup, store in the fridge and use to sweeten fresh lemonade, lime soda or iced tea. Plums make an excellent jam and the preparation is easy - there's no need to peel the fruit. Halve the plums and discard the pits. Weigh the fruit and add an equal weight of granulated sugar. Add fresh lemon juice. Heat the mixture in a large pan over low flame until the sugar starts to dissolve and the fruit begins to give off its juices, then turn up the flame and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat as the mixture thickens, continuing to stir constantly. The jam is ready when a teaspoonful of the mixture is dropped on a chilled plate and it retains its shape - the juices don't run. If you like, stir a little brandy or rum into the jam just before removing from the heat. Pour the hot jam into sterilised jars (heatproof jars simmered in water for 10 minutes) and seal with sterilised lids. Allow to cool completely then store in the fridge. Plum crumble is a classic way to use the fruit but if you don't have the time, sauted plums are just as delicious and make a fast, easy topping for ice cream. Cut the plums into six or eight pieces, according to the size of the fruit. Heat butter in a non-stick pan and add the plums, sprinkle with soft brown or granulated sugar, and squeeze in fresh lemon juice. Saute over medium-high heat until the fruit starts to soften. Carefully add brandy or rum. The alcohol will probably flambe by itself (if it doesn't, light it with a match). Cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the flames die down. Serve over vanilla ice cream accompanied by shortbread biscuits.