Friday, 28 August 2009

plums R us

Well, we've been on holiday for a week hence the lack of posts. We haven't really done much at either allotment since coming back other than a quick visit to both sites to check on things. Site 1 is still coming up trumps with the runner beans and we harvested (prematurely as it turned out) the first of the sweetcorn. The silkies had gone over brown and the corn was milky when pressed with a thumb nail, but on opening 4 large cobs they were mostly immature and covered with an excess of green outer. Never mind, they've come home and been blanched and are in the freezer - they'll be absolutely find for using in stir frys. Guess that's what comes from being too eager.

On Site 2 the Nicola potatoes are all doing well as are the onions. Photos on those after the weekend when we have a proper session up there.

The main focus this week has been on home produce, namely plums. When we arrived back at the start of the week we were amazed that all the plums were ready to harvest. There were about 25lbs of plums to do something with. I passed a couple of pounds over to my Mum and a few were eaten, but that still left a lot to use up.

A couple of weeks ago, Cloddigger had taken a first harvest of plums - enough to start 2 gallons of home brewed wine. From this bigger harvest he has started a second batch of plum wine. All being well it will be ready in time for Christmas.

I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon making Spiced Plum Chutney using an amazing recipe recommended by Mum. It's an adaptation* of
Deliah's Spiced Damson Chutney and boy, does it taste good. The recipe recommends letting it mature for 3 months before opening, so that'll be another plum product ready in time for Christmas.

* my adaptation was to use 1.5 pints of vinegar (Deliah says 2 pints, but I find it doesn't all evaporate off) and I used equal measures of malt vinegar and white wine vinegar, rather than just malt vinegar. I couldn't get any whole berry mixed spice, so sprinkled in about a teaspoon of ground mixed spice over the cloves and cinnamon in the gauze square before infusing it in the other ingredients in the pot.

I still had a couple of pounds of plums to use up, so this morning I spent an hour or so making Plum Jam from a really
easy-to-follow recipe found on the Internet. This was the first time I'd ever made jam and was surprised how straight forward it was. Of course cook's prerogative meant I got first taste and was pleased that the resulting mixture was just the right balance of sweetness and fruity tang.

all the ingredients in the pot to start the Spiced Plum Chutney. I didn't have gauze so improvised with an old clean muslin square to infuse the cinnamon, cloves and mixed all spice

near the end of cooking, I dished some out to check how well it thickened as it cooled (yummy flavour!)

the chutney all bottled up, labelled and ready for storage

plums, water and lemon juice boiling up before adding sugar jam (this already has pectin added so no need to buy separately)

the finished product. The photo doesn't do justice to the wonderful warm colour of the jam. If might not be the prettiest jam (it has a few bits of plum skin in and perhaps hasn't cleared as well as it should) but it is really tasty and that's all I'm interested in!

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