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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Plums, Plums and More Plums

Little Monkey Boy picking the plums.
Thanks to the heavy rainfalls, we've had our best crop of plums ever.  Bezillions of fat, juicy plums! We've been picking them for five days now and there are still some on the tree that we haven't yet reached.  They drop on our heads and get squished under our feet and make us feel guilty every time we go outside.  All the neighbours have received bags of plums, every friend who comes to the door receives bags of plums, friends of friends have received bags of plums and look...
...more bags of plums waiting to go somewhere! 

I should feel delighted with this bounty but instead I feel a bit guilty and weary.  The plum tree always ripens just after Christmas.  Right when I'm pooped and ready to put my feet up I see plums waiting to be poached or pruned or pickled.
So I made jam.  Jamming is still new to me. Two years ago I tried for the first time and made a delicious, thick batch.  I also managed to make a huge mess and was astounded at just how much sugar goes into a pot of jam. Last year's batch was not as successful - still yummy but too runny.  This year, I learnt a few new things.  I discovered that it's best to use fruit that's not too ripe and fruit that's just been picked.  You get the most pectin this way.  Pectin is the thing that makes your jam thick not runny.  Most recipes also call for lemon which also contains pectin.  And so do the stones of the fruit. You'd think I'd get it right with my new found knowledge but no - still runny.   I musn't have cooked it long enough again. 

I've contemplated making plum sauce but being vegetarian I can't imagine what we'd put it on.  A friend suggested we turn these plums into prunes.  I haven't looked into that yet.  Anyone tried?  Any other suggestions?  What else could I make with these plums?

And I made chutney.  Monkey Man actually grimaced when he taste tested it!  It's fair to say that Monkey Man has an under-developed palate.  Food is fuel to him.  He couldn't care less what he eats so long as it fills him up.  He has a big sweet tooth and would eat a pack of jelly bellies in one sitting but he can't tell a good meal when it's set in front of him.  So I didn't take offence ... much.  He claims he doesn't even know what chutney is and that it was strange - sweet but then spicy.  Well duh that's what makes it so good!  Anyway, don't trust Monkey Man's grimmace - trust me this chutney is good. Well, I think it will be good it still needs to cure for a month or two but the taste test I did was good.  This is a bastardised version of a chutney I found on the internet.  If you do a google you'll find plenty of chutneys to play around with. 

Plum Chutney
•  3 1/2 cups plums with seeds removed
•  1 cup brown sugar
•  1 cup white sugar
•  3/4 cup white wine vinegar
•  1 cup raisins
•  2 tsp salt
•  1/3 cup onions, chopped
•  2 cloves garlic, minced
•  2 tsp mustard seeds
•  2 tbs fresh ginger, minced
•  3/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Put the sugars and vinegars in a saucepan and bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer, stirring often for 50 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Pour into sterilised jars.  Store in a cool, dark place for at least one month before opening.

9 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm so envious of all your plums. all my fruit trees are still too young to bear fruit :( Last year I was lucky enough to be given plums from a friend and made jam - so delicious!

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  2. You weren't kidding when you said there were a lot of plums! I can't believe all those bags, oh I am so envious.

    I wish I lived around the corner and could come pick some, I couldn't even say for sure that I've seen a plum tree. Have you been doing some baking with them? Plum cakes and crumbles and stuff? Lol, does plum pudding have plums in it?

    How about a 7 day plum detox diet!

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  3. I know what it's like to have a young fruit tree Funkbunny - I've got a nectarine tree I can't wait for it to grow up. Ali I've made three desserts with plums this week. I never make dessert. Littlest Monkey has started to ask if there's dessert every night now. No more - their teeth will fall out! A plum detox diet eeyuw!

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  4. Never seen a plum tree before and sooo many plums! Nice of you to share them with everybody though. Your plum jam and chutney look delicious!

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  5. Wow! So many plums and jams! I know about you feeling weary. I have so many bird eye'e chillies that I feel very tired just harvesting them again and again. And the worst part is I hardly consume them. There is just that much chilli one can consume. I bought a bottle of chutney for the first time and have yet to try it. It's new to me. :)

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  6. Wow, I wish I lived near you - I could certainly use a bag of those plums. Re the jam-making: I'm not a great expert on this but, have you thought of these:- 1) Do you use Preserving Sugar instead of ordinary sugar?(It has added pectin I think). 2) Do you use the chilled saucer technique for testing if the jam has reached setting consistency? (Put a dollop of jam onto a cold saucer, push it gently with your finger. If the surface wrinkles, the jam is ready.)
    Have you thought of making plum wine / liqueur? Like Slivovic maybe? I'm sure you ought to be able to make plum gin on the same principle as sloe gin...

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  7. I think you're right One, there's only so much chilli you can eat. Rather a glut of plums than a glut of chilli. Mark thanks for your advice. I've never used preserving sugar - never seen it actually. I might look into adding pectin another year if I can't get it right again. I do use the chilled saucer technique but I wasn't quite sure what I was looking for. Didn't know it was supposed to wrinkle. Thanks for that. I'm sure we wouldn't drink plum liqueur but you've given me an idea. Of course plum juice. I have a juicer that never gets used. Time to dust it off I think.

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  8. Hello! Im from Brasil and im a beginner gardener too. Your blog is lovely! I m going to add in my blog. If you want to see my blog will be a pleasure for me.. http://suculentasecia.blogspot.com/
    (sorry about my english..rs)

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  9. Thanks Li. What a great use of objects in the garden you have on your blog.

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