Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Plum Massacre

I confess - I probably overdid it, but it wasn't entirely my fault. You see, last year, I looked out the window one day in the 2nd or 3rd week of July and thought, "holy cow! I gotta pick the plums!" I managed to fill up a 5 gallon bucket plus a big size bowl with every single plum off the tree. I am not joking -- I picked the tree clean last year.

Yesterday afternoon, I got out the ladder and started picking. And picking. And picking. I ended up with about 20 or 30 gallons of plums. There are still a lot more plums. The goal in picking all the plums is to avoid waste of perfectly good fruit and to avoid having to clean up rotten, squishy plums out of my garden and off the ground and yard furnitures.

So, I got cleaning and cooking. I ended up with 3 gallons (maybe more) of plum juice. I also ended up with about 1/2 gallon of plum sauce after running the juice through a jelly bag. I made a batch of plum habanero jelly with 16 cups of juice (and 18 cups of sugar), and plum lavender jelly (8 cups of juice, 9 cups of sugar). I used Pomona's Pectin and therein lies the rub... stuff is not setting properly.

I cooked everything down a LOT. I even overboiled a couple times and probably lost about 5 cups of jelly on the stovetop. The plum lavender jelly is setting a bit better than the plum habanero but since I finished that at midnight, I'll give it another day (and an overnight in the fridge) to gauge the set. The plum habanero tastes a bit hotter than last year - I used 8 habaneros (started with 4 but it wasn't spicy enough).

Total haul:

Plum habanero:
7 12 oz jars
8 8 oz jars
9 4 oz jars

Plum lavender:
2 12 oz jars
4 8 oz jars
4 4 oz jars

The plum pulp was used for plum sauce -- I have always wanted to make my own plum sauce, it's sweet, tangy, salty and delicious for dipping egg rolls (which my sweetie & I first made two weeks ago). I read some recipes and threw this together in a pot:

1 chopped up onion
2 star anise
4 cloves
3 chopped cloves of garlic
1/4 c. soy
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2 c. unrefined cane sugar
1 t chili flakes
1 c. water

I simmered that and added 4 c. of the plum sauce, then simmered some more and added the rest of the plum sauce and a couple ladles of the hot plum habanero jelly. I threw in another half cup of brown sugar and a cup or so of demerara sugar just to be safe. Plum sauce is darned sweet.

At midnight, I ended up with a Dutch oven totally full of about 8 cups of plum sauce. This sauce smells and tastes like some kind of insanely non-tomato-based BBQ sauce. I'm going to re-taste it after leaving it chill for 24 hours and decide if I want to continue doctoring and cooking it, maybe puree it in the blender and then seal it in jars. I cannot wait to put this on portobella mushrooms on the fire!

I still have two half-gallon bottles of plum juice for more jelly. Guess what everyone's getting for gifts for the next six months?

I also plan to make a batch of lavender jelly once I get through the plum stuff. I have so much mint that I will also make mint jelly and plan to make both mint basil jelly and mint basil pesto once the basil is big enough to harvest.

James pulled up a couple of cilantro plants -- I should have been making cilantro-pumpkin seed pesto instead of reading blogs tonight... oops! It was so quiet over there in the bowl of water by the window!

1 comment:

Sanja said...

O, I am so jealous of all the plum goodness; I want that too! You are very creative with flavours btw...