|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.
• 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.